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The 2020 Bar Chat Awards...NFL Playoff Picture
[Posted early Tuesday p.m.]
Associated Press Athlete of the Year Quiz: LeBron James and Naomi Osaka were the Male and Female AP Athletes of the Year, which is a high honor. For James it was his fourth. The award started in 1931 for both. 1) Who are the only two other males to win it four times? 2) Who is the only baseball player to win it twice? 3) Name the three women to have won the AP award at least four times. Answers below.
--After I last posted, Green Bay beat Tennessee in the snow, 40-14, as Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, three to Davante Adams, giving Adams 17 on the season, while Boston College rookie A.J. Dillon rumbled for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Very encouraging for the Packers to have an alternative to Aaron Jones.
And Monday, the Bills whipped the Patriots 38-9, New England’s Cam Newton held to 34 yards, the lowest total for a Pats starting QB since 1993, while Buffalo’s Josh Allen was a rather solid 27/36, 320, 4-0, 138.7. Allen now has a franchise-record 34 touchdown passes, his favorite target being Stefon Diggs, 9-145-3, Diggs with 120 receptions for 1,459 yards and 8 TDs on the season.
Bill Belichick was not a happy camper on the sidelines, angrily throwing a phone at one point. It was the Pats’ third straight loss, dropping them to 6-9, marking their first losing season since his first year in 2000. It was also the first time the Bills swept New England during Belichick’s 21 seasons.
1. Green Bay 12-3…Chicago
2. New Orleans 11-4…Carolina
3. Seattle 11-4…San Francisco
4. Washington 6-9…Philadelphia
5. Tampa Bay 10-5…Atlanta
6. L.A. Rams 9-6…Arizona
7. Chicago 8-7…Green Bay
8. Arizona 8-7…L.A. Rams
Green Bay can still secure home-field advantage if they lose to the Bears, but only if the Seahawks lose to the 49ers. Should the Packers lose and the Saints win, New Orleans bags the home-field throughout.
If the Bears lose to Green Bay, they’ll need the Cardinals to lose to the Rams.
1. Kansas City 14-1…L.A. Chargers
2. Buffalo 12-3…Miami
3. Pittsburgh 12-3…Cleveland
4. Tennessee 10-5…Houston
5. Miami 10-5…Buffalo
6. Baltimore 10-5…Cincinnati
7. Cleveland 10-5…Pittsburgh
8. Indianapolis 10-5…Jacksonville
If the Browns lose to the Steelers*, they’ll need the Colts to lose, highly unlikely, or: the Titans losing their final game, unlikely, and the Ravens, Colts and Dolphins all winning.
*But Cleveland is catching a big break, as the Steelers announced they will rest Ben Roethlisberger, seeing as Pittsburgh had clinched. Other starters are likely to get a rest as well. Mason Rudolph gets the nod at QB.
In the AFC, only K.C., Buffalo and Pittsburgh have playoff spots locked up, K.C. homefield advantage throughout. Coupled with Green Bay, hopefully, getting the No. 1 in the NFC, that will assure us of a good chance of wintry weather at some point, which is what us viewers, nestled snugly at home, most desire. New Orleans gaining home-field in the antiseptic Superdome would blow.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Rams’ Jared Goff underwent surgery on his broken right thumb Monday and won’t play Sunday in their crucial game against Arizona. Should the Rams still advance, Goff may be available for the playoffs.
But they have to get there, and now it’s up to backup John Wolford, who has yet to play in the NFL.
I’m going to be pulling for him big time, as Wolford is a product of Wake Forest. His senior year, 2017, Wolford was spectacular for us, the team finishing 8-5, as he threw 29 touchdown passes against just six interceptions, while rushing for 683 yards and 10 TDs. The guy is gritty and at least he has the advantage of being with the team the entire season, so he knows the playbook. Fingers crossed.
But big picture, the Rams have a huge issue with the ineffective Jared Goff, who has committed a league-worst 39 turnovers since 2019, yet to whom the team is tied until 2024, with $110 million guaranteed.
To put it bluntly, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke writes:
“The truth came roaring down from Seattle like a frigid December wind.
“The Rams have a championship defense but a clunker quarterback.
“The Rams are strong enough to bully their way into the playoffs, but their quarterback will ensure they don’t last long.
“The Rams could be great, but Jared Goff is not.
“On a Sunday afternoon that crowned the NFC’s West Division champion, the Rams were not that team because Goff is not that guy.
“The $134-million question is, will he ever be that guy?”
--As Washington prepares for its final game Sunday against Philadelphia, the team released 2019 first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins, after just 13 starts. As I wrote last time, Haskins confirmed he was one of the bigger draft busts in recent memory and Monday, team officials agreed.
Coach Ron Rivera said after meeting with Haskins: “This afternoon I met with Dwayne and informed him that we would be releasing him. I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways. We want to thank Dwayne for his contributions these last two seasons and wish him well moving forward.”
Exactly what those “contributions” were is hard to figure out. In 13 starts, he was 3-10, 12 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions, a putrid 74.4 passer rating.
Washington owner Dan Snyder had been a strong proponent of drafting Haskins, despite pushback from some on the football staff, yet he supported Rivera’s decision, further validating the coach’s power as Washington’s lead decision-maker on the football side.
Haskins had a tumultuous nine-day stretch where he lost two games, in place of the injured Alex Smith, lost his captaincy, and was fined $40,000 for partying without a mask. It was the second time he had been fined by the team for violating the NFL’s coronavirus protocols, and it only added to the portrait of a man with physical gifts but lacking maturity.
Assuming Alex Smith can’t make it back from his calf injury, Taylor Heinicke will start against the Eagles.
As for the future, Washington’s QB picture is rather cloudy.
--As the New York Post’s Brian Costello points out, now that the Jets are settled in at No. 2, no one should expect the organization to make up its mind on Sam Darnold and whether or not to retain him for months. There’s zero urgency.
First off, with Adam Gase likely to be fired after Sunday’s finale in New England, GM Joe Douglas has to find a good one to replace him, and the new coach will have a say over who is the quarterback. Maybe the new guy likes Darnold and the Jets trade the No. 2 to pick up a haul. Or maybe he likes Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance at 2.
Meanwhile, Frank Gore, who hit the 16,000 rushing yards mark on Sunday, just the third player in NFL history to do so, may have written the final chapter in his remarkable career.
In the fourth quarter of the Jets win over Cleveland, Gore, 37, left the game because of a chest injury, which turned out to be a lung contusion, which will keep him out of the finale at New England.
What a freakin’ mess…the Music City Bowl, slated for Wednesday, Missouri and 15 Iowa, was canceled the other day when Missouri was forced to pull out because of a rise in Covid cases, which apparently goes back to the team’s road trip to Mississippi State on Dec. 19, not the holiday recess. Iowa did not seek an alternate opponent or makeup game.
The Hawkeyes had practiced Saturday and Sunday after returning from their own five-day pause after six coaches tested positive. So Iowa finished 6-2, Missouri 5-5.
Wednesday, Wake Forest plays Wisconsin, so finally a sporting event us Wake fans can watch, the hoops team not having played since November.
And we have 7 Florida and 6 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, which should be interesting, as Kyle Trask gets another opportunity to improve his draft standing.
Friday we have the playoffs....thank god.
--New AP Poll (Mon.)
1. Gonzaga (62) 7-0
2. Baylor (2) 6-0
3. Kansas 8-1
4. Villanova 8-1
5. Houston 7-0
6. Wisconsin 8-1
7. Tennessee 6-0
8. Texas 7-1
9. West Virginia 7-2
10. Iowa 7-2
14. Rutgers 6-1
But then Monday night, Maryland (6-3) handed 6 Wisconsin its second loss, 70-64.
--Pretty funny how after I posted Sunday, slamming the Knicks and praising the Nets, the Knickerbockers pulled off a shocker, 130-110 over Milwaukee, as point guard Elfrid Payton, who has talent but has been an enigma, had 27 points and 7 assists in 29 minutes.
The Nets then lost to Charlotte 106-104. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had their third straight strong game, but Landry Shamet missed all nine field goal attempts, 0-8 from three.
The loss was costly as the Nets lost Spencer Dinwiddie, who has emerged the last two seasons as one of the more underrated players in the game, to a partially torn ACL.
And then Tuesday, playing back-to-back, the Nets rested Durant and Irving and lost to the Grizzlies, 116-111, Memphis losing Ja Morant to an ankle injury, apparently out 3-5 weeks.
But just like that, after only four games, perhaps the Nets’ bandwagon won’t be filling up as quickly as thought just two days earlier.
--One other note from Sunday night. Dallas jumped out to an NBA-record 50-point halftime lead against the Clippers, 77-27, cruising 124-73.
--The San Diego Padres are finalizing a trade to acquire former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays for top pitching prospect Luis Patino, catchers Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt, and right-handed pitching prospect Cole Wilcox.
The trade, pending medical reviews, would send the 28-year-old Snell to the Padres just months after a brilliant outing in Game 6 of the World Series against the Dodgers, only to be pulled early.
In 2018, Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, winning the A.L. Cy Young Award. In five seasons, he is 42-30 with a 3.24 ERA, and 648 strikeouts in 556 innings over 108 starts.
For Tampa Bay, which has a history of trading top pitchers, Patino, 21, is the headliner, a big talent.
But the Rays are saving the $39 million remaining on Snell’s deal (three more years) and once they jettison Kevin Kiermaier (two years at $26 million), no player will be due more than $7 million in 2021, as the New York Post’s Joel Sherman points out.
Yet you see what the Rays do. They certainly stay competitive as they reload their top farm system time and time again.
--The Padres then stayed aggressive. After picking up Snell, they went for Yu Darvish of the Cubs. Darvish and his personal catcher, Victor Caratini, will go to San Diego and in return, the Cubs are reportedly acquiring right-hander Zach Davies and four young prospects: outfielders Owen Caissie (18) and Ismael Mena (18) and shortstops Reggie Preciado (17) and Yeison Santana (12…OK, he’s 20).
Darvish, 34, is in the middle of a six-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Cubs before the 2018 season. After an elbow injury that year, he began rounding back into past form in 2019, and then was a sterling 8-3, 2.01 ERA in 2020, finishing second in the Cy Young vote to Trevor Bauer.
The Cubbies would appear to be getting some real potential in return as the team launches its reset under new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, including saving $59 million over three years that otherwise would have been owed Darvish.
But for San Diego, it’s now or never. I’m jealous, Bobby C.
--Holy cow! An American male won a World Cup ski race! Tuesday, at Bormio, Italy, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, son of 1972 Olympic slalom champion Barbara Cochran, took first in a Super-G race.
Also Tuesday, Mikaela Shiffrin had a third in a slalom in Semmering, Austria, the race won by Michelle Gisin of Switzerland, the first Swiss woman to win a slalom in 19 years, if you can believe that.
Gisin’s win also ended a 28-race slalom streak where the races were either won by Shiffrin or Petra Vlhova, who finished sixth.
--Golfer Greg Norman had quite a battle with Covid-19, severe symptoms that “kicked the crap” out of him, as he put it. He contracted the coronavirus, as did his son Greg Jr. What started out as “mild symptoms” quickly intensified and Norman said he endured pain like never before, and this is a guy who is always in primo shape.
“I am fit and strong and have a high tolerance for pain but this virus kicked the crap out of me like nothing I have ever experienced before,” Norman wrote on Instagram.
“Muscle and joint pain on another level. Headaches that feel like a chisel going through your head scraping little bits off each time, fever, muscles that just did not want to work, like yesterday, walking my dog Apollo my quads and hip flexors just did not want to work due to fatigue.
“Then my taste failed where beer tastes bad and wine the same. And finally at times struggling with memory of names and things. Then there is irritation.” [Ed. I edited this slightly.]
Norman urged everyone to take the “hideous” virus seriously so they can avoid the battle he has faced.
“So please take care. And for those doubters out there, do not judge or cast unwarranted comments and opinions…I would not want anyone, even you, to experience this hideous virus,” he said.
“So I ask, do what is right, not just for you, but your family, friends, co-workers and other people around. I am luckier than most and for that I am thankful and blessed. Also the world is blessed and science has acted and performed like never before in getting a vaccine/s for all to eventually receive. Thank you to those people. We need to get our world back in healthy harmony so we can get healthy economically and prosperously with millions and millions of people getting their lives back.”
A week ago, Norman was playing in the PNC Championship in Florida with Greg Jr. The pair finished ninth in the father-son tournament.
--Roger Federer is not going to be ready to play in the Australian Open in February due to his knee surgeries. He has vowed to play again, but he turns 40 in August and has not played a competitive tournament since the 2020 Australian Open, where he fell to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. He needed two knee surgeries this year.
Rafael Nadal tied Federer with his 20th Grand Slam at the French Open in October.
--Christine Brennan / USA TODAY…on the sports world, 2020…
“It was the evening of March 11, 2020, a day that will forever live in the annals of American cultural history. As the coronavirus pandemic washed upon our shores, a skeptical nation, including our president, was paralyzed by indecision and uncertainty.
“But something happened that night that snapped the nation to attention. It came as a lightning bolt, lighting up our phones and television screens:
“The NBA was suspending its season.
“Who doesn’t remember where they were at the moment the alert came, announcing that one player’s positive Covid-19 test was shutting down the entire season, immediately?
“A sports league was doing what President Donald Trump and 535 members of Congress could not do. It was awakening a nation to the overwhelming magnitude of a crisis that was going to shape every moment of our lives for the rest of the year.
“ ‘We were bumbling along as a country until the NBA did that,’ said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, ‘and then suddenly everybody took notice of how many lives would have been saved had we shut down a month earlier.’
“If the NBA, one of the world’s most popular and successful sports enterprises, could shut down in the blink of an eye, just how serious was this? We soon found out. Over the next few days, as college and professional games disappeared before our eyes, sports stopped being an escape from reality and instead became a sobering mirror of our society.
“As sports went, so went the nation. When the country needed guidance and something to lean on, the sports world became our North Star. How interesting, and fitting, that the year that sports became more important than ever was the sports year with the most interruptions. At a time of great uncertainty, the sports world had all the answers – most of them right, a few of them wrong.
“The bubbles that protected NBA and WNBA players were majestic successes, feats of personal responsibility and professional leadership. But just as some members of the American public grew antsy, or barely cared about health guidelines and the safety of those around them, so too at times did sports, college sports in particular.
“When one college conference after another decided to play football, riding the backs of 18-to-22-year-olds in the midst of so much medical uncertainty to make millions in TV money, sports played a leadership role in all the wrong ways during the worst days of the pandemic in November and December. In college towns across America, many students were not allowed on campuses, but football players were. The powers that be decided in their own self-centered way that we needed young, unpaid men to entertain us by playing football during a pandemic, no matter what. It remains to be seen how history will judge that decision.”
As for the wave of athlete activism…tennis legend and women’s rights advocate Billie Jean King summed it up:
“Many of today’s professional athletes found their voices in 2020,” she said. “The pandemic brought us more time to reflect and more time to look closely at something bigger than themselves. And we took action. We saw that with the NBA, the WNBA and others taking a lead on equality issues. Individual athletes like Naomi Osaka made us see important situations in a new light.
“For my generation, standing up and speaking out was often frowned upon and discouraged and many of us saw it as the price we had to pay for positive change. Professional athletes have an amazing platform for change and it is gratifying to see so many of them – and the leagues they compete in – step up for something bigger than sports.”
--Among those we lost this year in the world of sports were Gale Sayers, Kobe Bryant, Diego Maradona and Jack Charlton in the world of football, the latter a huge hero in both his native England and then in Ireland, where he became the country’s first foreign born manager, Jim Kiick, Jake Scott, Bobby Mitchell, Tom Dempsey, Fred Dean, Don Shula, Paul Hornung, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood, Willie Davis, Kevin Greene, Rafer Johnson, K.C. Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, David Stern, Wes Unseld Sr., Jerry Sloan, John Thompson, Lou Henson, Lute Olson, Eddie Sutton, Fred “Curly” Neal, Phyllis George, Henri Richard, Peter Alliss, Pat Dye, Johnny Majors, Pete Dye, John McNamara, Jay Johnstone, Don Larsen, Lou Brock, Phil Niekro, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan, Al Kaline, Whitey Ford, Dick Allen, Bob Watson, Jimmy Wynn, and…Tom Seaver.
In the entertainment industry, the likes of Kenny Rogers, Eddie Van Halen, Jerry Stiller, Carl Reiner, Regis Philbin, Alex Trebek, Sean Connery, Diana Rigg, Kirk Douglas, Little Richard, Charlie Daniels, and Chadwick Boseman.
RIP all. You left your mark on the world.
And now…The 2020 Bar Chat Awards!
Just a refresher…as defined by Webster’s, an ‘idiot’ is “an ignorant person; foolish or stupid.” A ‘jerk’ is “annoyingly stupid or foolish.”
To me a jerk is fully aware of what they are doing, while an idiot lacks some of the basics. As for ‘dirtball,’ there has to be some malicious intent in the behavior.
--"Dirtball Organization of the Year” to the Houston Astros, who were formally punished by Major League Baseball this January after an investigation into a sign-stealing system in their World Series championship season of 2017. But the players weren’t punished.
--A “Hero” Award to NJ Transit police officer Bryan Richards, who revived a baby girl born in the women’s restroom in Newark’s Penn Station. The mother had just given birth and was cradling the baby, who was gray in color.
Richards began chest compressions and radioed for EMS, but “realizing the dire need for immediate medical care,” Richards decided to rush the baby to the hospital.
While officer Alberto Nunes drove, Richards continued to pump the girl’s chest and offered words of encouragement. A cry was heard as they neared the hospital and the baby began to breathe.
“Good girl. Good girl. Good girl,” Richards said as the officers arrived at the hospital. NJ Transit said the baby was doing well.
--A “Good Guy” award to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. A 10-year-old Manchester United fan wrote a letter to Klopp asking him if he could please lose a game, which Liverpool hadn’t done in 26 matches. The wishful thinking boy, Daragh Curley of Donegal, Ireland, was surprised when Klopp wrote back denying his request.
Curley penned his letter as part of a school assignment.
“I support Man United and the reason I write is to complain,” he wrote to Klopp. “Liverpool are winning too many games. If you win nine more games then you have the best unbeaten run in English football. Being a United fan that is very sad.”
“So the next time Liverpool play please make them lose,” Curley continued in his missive. “You should just let the other team score. I hope I have convinced you to not win the league or win another match ever again.”
The boy finished his letter by writing “Yours Sincerely, Daragh.”
Klopp told reporters he replied because he found the boy’s request clever. Unfortunately for Curley, Klopp had no intentions of easing up on the competition.
“Unfortunately, on this occasion I cannot grant your request, not through choice anyway,” Klopp wrote in a registered letter received by Curley’s shocked parents in Ireland.
He praised Curley as a credit to Manchester United and explained how sports can be a metaphor for life.
“Luckily for you, we have lost games in the past and we will lose games in the future because that is football,” Klopp wrote. “The problem is when you are 10-years-old you think that things will always be as they are now but if there is one thing I can tell you at 52 years old it is that this most definitely isn’t the case.”
Klopp told Curley that despite Liverpool and Manchester United’s soccer clubs being bitter rivals, the organizations share a mutual respect based on decades of competition.
“This, to me, is what football is all about,” the Liverpool boss wrote. “Take care and good luck, Jurgen.”
--We have an “Athlete of the Year” ribbon for David Ayres, who was sitting in the stands with his wife at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto when Carolina Hurricanes goalie James Reimer went down with an injury.
The on-call emergency netminder in Toronto, Ayres left his seat and got half dressed into his gear on the off chance something might happen to Carolina’s second option, Petr Mrazek.
Midway through the second period, Ayres noticed his cell phone started to blow up. What he didn’t realize was Mrazek had been hurt in a scary collision with Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford and was down on the ice.
Next thing the 42-year-old Zamboni driver knew, he was walking down the tunnel and into the spotlight.
And not long after, he had an improbable first NHL win. He is the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his regular-season debut.
Ayres allowed goals on the first two shots he faced before settling down and stopping the next eight in a suffocating defensive performance by his new teammates as Carolina picked up a stunning 6-3 victory over the Maple Leafs.
Ayres was paid $500 and got to keep his jersey. He has been a practice goalie with the Leafs for the last eight years.
--“Idiot” coupons for all those attending a Garth Brooks concert in Detroit, Michigan, obviously before the pandemic hit, for misunderstanding the jersey Brooks wore as he took the stage, the number 20 of Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders.
Many fans were confused – and angry – after thinking the 20 Sanders jersey stood for something else – that Brooks was backing Bernie Sanders for president in 2020.
Soon Brooks’ Instagram account was filled with criticism, accusing Brooks of being a “millionaire socialist” and telling him to “stay out of politics.”
It’s moments like these I want to flee to Canada.
--A “Good Guy” plaque to some of the NBA players such as New Orleans’ Zion Williamson and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who in the days after the NBA shut down, immediately stepped up to cover the salaries of arena workers for 30 days.
Williamson, writing via Instagram, cited his mother, who instilled in him growing up that many people in the area still haven’t recovered from losses suffered during Hurricane Katrina.
“The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at Smoothie King Center. These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization.
--Both “Idiot” and “Jerk” awards to Prince Harry and Meghan for stepping back from being working members of the monarchy.
--“Good Guy” Award is handed out to pop star Pink, who suffered from Covid-19 for a spell and then called it “an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not make testing more widely accessible. This illness is serious and real.”
This was back in early April. Pink then pledged a million dollars to supporting healthcare professionals on the frontlines, including $500,000 to the Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund in Philadelphia in honor of her mother, Judy Moore, “who worked there for 18 years in the Cardiomyopathy and Heart Transplant Center,” Pink wrote.
Another $500,000 went to the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Emergency Covid-19 Crisis Fund, she said.
--An “Idiot of the Year” plaque to NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR back in April for using a racial slur during the livestream broadcast of a virtual exhibition race.
Larson was competing in an iRacing event when he seemed to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During the microphone check, Larson could be heard saying the slur. “You can’t hear me?” he said on the livestream. “Hey, (expletive).”
“Kyle, you’re talking to everyone, bud,” one driver replied. Another person said, “No way did that just happen.”
--Kylie Jenner picks up some “Jerk of the Year” coasters for lying about her wealth and forging tax returns in order to inflate her net worth, according to a scathing report in Forbes.
Last year, the magazine had named Jenner the youngest-ever self-made billionaire after she sold her makeup line, Kylie Cosmetics.
But Forbes said in a report back in May, “Forbes now thinks that Kylie Jenner, even after pocketing an estimated $340 million after tax from the sale, is not a billionaire.”
--“Idiot of the Year” hardware to tennis great Novak Djokovic, who announced he and his wife had tested positive for Covid-9 after he played in a series of exhibition matches he organized in Serbia and Croatia with zero social distancing amid the pandemic. Three other players in attendance tested positive.
Djokovic and other players were seen hugging each other and partying in night clubs and restaurants after the matches.
And then at the U.S. Open, Djokovic was disqualified for accidentally hitting a line judge with a tennis ball.
--“Idiot” t-shirts to students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who reportedly threw “Covid parties” with their friends and gambling on who would get sick first, according to local officials.
--“Hero” awards to the trained sniffer dogs from the German Bundeswehr who have been found to have the ability to detect Covid-19 in human samples with a relatively high rate of accuracy, per an infectious diseases journal.
--"Good Guy” Award to Bindi Irwin – daughter of famed wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin – and her family for working around the clock to help thousands of animals affected by devastating wildfires that ravaged Australia early in the year.
“Our Wildlife Hospital is busier than ever, having officially treated over 90,000 patients,” she wrote, adding, “My heart breaks for the people and wildlife who have lost so much.”
--“Jerk of the Year” hardware to the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, who tested positive for Covid after attending the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden, while not wearing a mask.
Weeks earlier, Jenkins had ordered the school to go to virtual learning after a spike in cases in South Bend.
--A “Good Guy” certificate, suitable for framing, for then-Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook, who left an $8,000 tip for the housekeepers of the Grand Floridian hotel where he and his teammates were holed up while in the NBA’s bubble.
“They took great care of us,” Westbrook told Bleacher Report, confirming the tip. “Took the time and energy to do their job at a high level. That was the right thing. I like to do the right thing.”
The hotel said Westbrook, known to be a neat freak, left his room “virtually spotless.”
--“Jerk of the Year” to NFL analyst and former coach Tony Dungy, who after Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a devastating ankle injury while the Cowboys were playing the Giants, said Prescott’s injury “might be a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys.”
Dungy then admitted it was a poor choice of words.
--“Good Guy” certificate to former Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who after the team didn’t pick up the option on his contract, having pitched in Chicago for six years, nonetheless showed his appreciation by buying everyone’s first Miller Lite at four bars in town, the tab running at least $25,000, plus tip.
--“Hero” hardware to Richard Wilbanks of Estero, Florida, who rescued his dog from the grasp of an alligator, an unexpected moment captured on film.
Wilbanks jumped into waist-deep pond water after the alligator dragged the dog underwater After he got the gator to release its grip, his dog scampered ashore and had suffered just some cuts and scrapes.
--“A-hole of the Year” hardware to music mogul Scooter Braun, who sold the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums to an investment fund; a deal said to be worth more than $300 million.
Writing on Twitter, Swift said it was “the second time my music had been sold without my knowledge.”
In 2004, Swift signed a deal with record label Big machine in 2004 granting them ownership of the master recordings to her first six albums in exchange for a cash advance to kick-start her career.
Braun then bought Big Machine in 2019, and with it the rights to most of Swift’s work. Since then the pair have been locked in a major battle over control of the music.
Swift, as the writer or co-writer of her music, still owns the publishing rights.
--“Hero” hardware to Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who announced in July that he was opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about Covid-19.
Duvernay-Tardif, who started at guard in the Chiefs’ victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV earlier this year, is the only medical school graduate in the NFL and has been on the front lines of the Covid response all year.
“Being at the frontline (sic) during this offseason has given me a different perspective on the pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system.”
And so Duvernay-Tardif, as SI recognized recently, represents the true heroes of 2020, the “Good Guys”…the Bar Chat “Person(s) of the Year,” the healthcare workers and first responders. We love you all.
--Dog retains the “Animal of the Year” award.
Top 3 songs for the week 12/25/63: #1 “Dominique” (The Singing Nun…so funny…in six weeks the Beatles would appear on Ed Sullivan and the music world would change forever…) #2 “There! I’ve Said It Again” (Bobby Vinton) #3 “Louie Louie” (The Kingsmen)…and…#4 “Since I Fell For You” (Lenny Welch) #5 “You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry” (The Caravelles) #6 “Drip Drop” (Dion Di Muci) #7 “Forget Him” (Bobby Rydell…guys like him didn’t realize that with the British Invasion coming, they would be reduced to Oldies Revival Tours…) #8 “Popsicles And Icicles” (The Murmaids) #9 “Talk Back Trembling Lips” (Johnny Tillotson) #10 “Be True To Your School” (The Beach Boys)
Associated Press Athlete of the Year Quiz Answers: 1) Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong (booo boooo) are the only two aside from LeBron to win the award four times. Michael Jordan won it three times. 2) The only baseball player to win it twice was Sandy Koufax (1963, 65). 3) for the ladies, Babe Didrikson was a six-time winner, Serena Williams has won five, and Chris Evert four. Maureen Connolly (tennis) and Annika Sorenstam each won it three times.
As the years go by, you know who ends up being one of the ‘coolest’ figures in sports, in my lifetime? Annika.
Next Bar Chat, late Sunday p.m.