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No. 7 for Brady
[Posted Sun. p.m. after the Super Bowl]
Olympic Boxing Quiz: In memory of Leon Spinks, name the five U.S. boxers to win Gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Answer below.
Super Bowl LV
21-6 Tampa Bay at the half. Tom Brady, 16/20, 140, 3-0, 135.4. Patrick Mahomes 9/19, 67, 0-0.
Brady had two touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski, just like old times.
Tampa Bay outgained K.C. 194-124.
And the Chiefs killed themselves with eight penalties for 95 yards, while the Bucs were penalized just once. Most of the blame is placed on the K.C. secondary.
So that was our first half story. Pretty bleak for the Chiefs. Their longest play was all of 14 yards.
Meanwhile, I would have preferred Anita Bryant and Up With People for the halftime show,
Well, to start the second half, Mahomes and Co. got the ball and wouldn’t you know, the first play went for 26 yards, a run by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But the drive quickly stalled, though the Chiefs got a 52-yard field goal from Harrison Butker (his third) to cut it to 21-9.
Tom Brady then immediately drove the Bucs 74 yards on six plays, Leonard Fournette with a 27-yard touchdown scamper, 28-9 Pats.
Then Mahomes threw an interception. Just a nightmare performance.
The Bucs drove the ball again, Ryan Succup with a 52-yard field goal, 31-9. And that was your game.
Mahomes valiantly tried to rally K.C. on the next series, but they were stopped fourth-and-goal and Tampa Bay set about running out the clock.
The final stats don’t matter…Brady has his seventh Super Bowl ring.
A disappointing game, except for Tampa Bay fans (and the man in the next story), who are on a roll. Stanley Cup champions. In a World Series. Win the Super Bowl. Kind of amazing.
I’ll have some final tidbits next Chat.
--Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a Houston furniture store owner who is known for making giant sports bets, placed the largest wager on Super Bowl LV that we know of - $3.46 million on underdog Tampa Bay at +3.5.
McIngvale flew into Colorado Springs on Wednesday, logged on to the DraftKings mobile betting app from the airport and placed one of the largest bets ever on the big game. McIngvale was set to win $2.72 million if Tampa Bay covered.
This year, customers at McIngvale’s store who spend $3,000 or more on a new mattress will get their money back if the Buccaneers beat the Chiefs. And so they did.
--Aaron Rodgers was named the NFL’s MVP for a third time, but he’s still smarting from not being in the Super Bowl, when it was assumed Green Bay would defeat Tampa Bay in the NFC title game.
But the award is for the regular season and Rodgers, at age 37 and in his 16th season, played as well as ever, throwing for 4,299 yards and 48 touchdowns as the Packers went 13-3 during the regular season. He threw only five interceptions.
Rodgers joins Brett Favre, Jim Brown, Tom Brady and Johnny Unitas as three-time winners – all second most behind Peyton Manning’s five MVPs.
Tennessee running back Derrick Henry was named offensive player of the year as he had the eighth 2,000-yard rushing season in league history, Henry’s 2,027 yards the fifth most ever.
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald made history in becoming only the third player to be voted defensive player of the year three times. Donald, 29, also won the award in 2017 and 2018. He joins Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor and Houston Texans lineman J.J. Watt as the only three-time winners.
Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski was named coach of the year. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was named offensive rookie of the year. Washington defensive end Chase Young was the defensive rookie of the year. Needless to say, Young’s teammate, Alex Smith, was comeback player of the year.
--Speaking of Peyton Manning, he was named as one of eight new enshrinees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night. Joining him is defensive back Charles Woodson, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, current 49ers GM and former defensive back John Lynch, and former guard Alan Faneca.
Also included in the Class of 2021 is former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, elected as a senior inductee.
Nice to see Tom Flores get selected for the Hall of Fame as well. He was the first Latino starting quarterback and head coach in NFL history.
Flores, 83, won two Super Bowls as the Raiders coach – one during the 1980 season in Oakland and another during the 1983 season in Los Angeles. He also won one as the Raiders’ wide receivers coach in 1976 and as a backup quarterback for Kansas City in 1969.
I’ve noted before that one of my big regrets as a memorabilia collector is that I had a terrific signed photo from Flores that a friend in the brokerage industry in Los Angeles picked up for me in the early ‘80s, and then in one of my many moves around the same time, water got into my car trunk and destroyed the photo. As Charlie Brown said, “Drat!”
And former Steelers scout/personnel executive Bill Nunn will be posthumously enshrined in the contributor category, Nunn a critical component of the Steelers’ dynastic run in the 1970s and return to the Super Bowl in the decades that followed. He died in 2014.
Back then I had the following tribute to Nunn in these pages (BC 5/12/2014):
We note the passing of Bill Nunn, a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty of the 1970s. He was 89.
Nunn had been the sports editor at the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper that named a black college all-American football team.
By the late 1960s, though, he was frustrated the NFL wasn’t drafting more of the players his paper honored. So he shared his feelings with Dan Rooney, son of the Steelers’ owner, Art Rooney, and rather than get an argument, Nunn was hired, becoming full time in 1969, the year Chuck Noll became coach.
Over the ensuing years, Nunn steered the club to select the likes of John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Mel Blount (Southern), Dwight White (East Texas State), Donnie Shell (South Carolina State) and Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern).
As Steelers fan Mark R. said, “Not bad, not bad at all.”
Nunn did have one who didn’t work out that well. Quarterback Joe Gilliam out of Tennessee State, who was a shooting star that beat out Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty in 1974, only to flame out after six games.
--Drew Brees is definitely preparing to retire after 20 seasons, as ESPN first reported that Brees has agreed to reduce his 2021 salary from $25 million to the veterans’ minimum of $1.075 million, which frees up nearly $24 million in salary-cap space for the Saints.
Brees and the Saints won’t officially file his retirement paperwork until June 1 so the team can spread his remaining salary-cap costs over the next two years.
--One college football note…according to 247Sports.com, after the second of two national signing days last Wednesday, Alabama has the best 2021 recruiting class, and by a substantial margin, followed by Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Clemson.
Alabama has seven five-star recruits among its 25 signed prospects. ‘Bama also signed seven players from Texas, the most of any state.
Others who did well were USC, which signed 10 of the top 26 prospects in California, and Oregon, which signed recruits from Maryland, New York and Nebraska.
--The Mets lost out on pitcher Trevor Bauer, but for all his excellence last season, 5-4, 1.73 ERA, 100 strikeouts in 73 innings in winning the Cy Young, the guy was only 11-13, 4.48, with Cleveland and Cincinnati in 2019, though he did have 253 strikeouts in 213 innings. 2018 with Cleveland he was 12-6, 2.21. For his career, Bauer is 75-64, 3.90.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“Trevor Bauer is coming to the Dodgers?
“One hand is over my mouth and the other hand is slapping my head.
“The best pitcher in the National League last season is joining the defending World Series champions?
“That can’t be real. That can’t be fair. Somebody needs to investigate.
“I just did. I clicked on a YouTube video shortly before noon Friday and listened to Bauer narrate a sentimental journey through his career that ended with a shot of him tossing a baseball in his hands while wearing a Dodgers uniform.
“ ‘This season is about adding to our legacy…and I can’t wait, Dodger fans,’ he says,.
“Trevor Bauer is coming to Los Angeles and the Dodgers may never lose another game.
“The best rotation in baseball just got incredibly deeper. The most star-filled roster in baseball just got noticeably glitzier. The best team in baseball just got enormously better.
“And, face it, the best franchise in baseball proved once again that there’s nobody close.
“Under no pressure to do this – and with no real need to do this – the Dodgers nonetheless forked over a reported $102 million for three years to buy a 30-year-old right-hander who won the National League Cy Young Award last year for the Cincinnati Reds and is just entering his prime.
“Seriously, who’s going to beat them now.
“Can you imagine stepping into a playoff series against a rotation of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer and David Price? And, oh, yeah, looming in the background are Dustin May and Julio Urias?
“Think about it. The Dodgers are now so good that the reigning Cy Young winner is their No. 3 starter, and their pitching staff now has five Cy Young awards among them.
“By acquiring Bauer one season after trading for Mookie Betts, the Dodgers are proving that their philosophy was never just about winning their first title in 32 years. It’s about winning a bunch of titles over the next several years. With moves like this, they have evolved from October demonized into a potential dynasty.
“Just as the Rams showed last weekend in trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford, collecting stars in dramatic fashion is what all great Los Angeles sports franchises have done, and must do, and the Dodgers really did it this time.”
Joel Sherman / New York Post
“When Steve Cohen held his introductory press conference as Mets owner on Nov. 10, he mentioned the Dodgers as the team he wants his franchise to emulate.
“On Friday, Cohen and the Mets saw the gap between the franchises manifest as Trevor Bauer chose the Dodgers.
“The gap is the physical one that the Mets could do nothing about – the 2,805 miles that separate Citi Field from Dodger Stadium. Bauer, from the Los Angeles area, gets to go home.
“But Bauer accepted a few million dollars less in overall value to be a Dodger rather than a Met for more specific than Pacific reasons. The Dodgers are everything that the Mets (and pretty much every team) aspire to be.
“They are MLB’s surest contender, having won eight straight NL West titles and last year’s World Series. The Mets have made the playoffs twice in 14 seasons. The Dodgers are at the vanguard of pitching modernity; vital for Bauer, who perhaps has done more than any active player to mainstream cutting-edge tools to maximize performance. The Mets are trying to play speed catch-up in this arena. The Dodgers are blessed with the kind of mature clubhouse that can absorb a polarizing player. The Mets are still trying to prove all the dysfunction in their shop was not Wilpon-caused.
“The Dodgers also provide a mega-city stage for Bauer, who has ambitions to have a powerful personal brand. New York City could deliver that, too. Plus, under Cohen, the Mets can be competitive financially compared to the Fred Wilpon version, which was always trying to recapture the Dodgers – the Brooklyn Dodgers….
“The power of the current Dodgers is that they have created such a monster of financial flexibility, productive farm system and appealing locale that they push into just about every market to see if they can land difference-makers. Their leverage is knowing they will still be terrific without the player. They, for example, tried hard last year on (Gerrit) Cole, offered less than the other New York team and didn’t get him. They lost Kenta Maeda and Hyun-jin Ryu, who finished second and third, respectively, in the A.L. Cy Young race. And David Price opted out of the season. Yet, they won it all, partially, because they still had oodles of starting pitching.”
So the Dodgers are a lock. This much is certain. Mets fans know we still need to get another starting pitcher and some outfield help, but we’ll be fine, too. After all, we now have the money saved in not signing Bauer to use elsewhere (plus we have to re-sign Michael Conforto). Mets-Dodgers in the NLCS has a nice ring to it and would be a nice step in the first year of the Steve Cohen era.
And for the record, the way Bauer’s contract is structured, $85 million the first two years, with an opt-out, “just” $17 million the third year, if he was healthy, he could test the market again at age 32.
--The Atlanta Braves were aggressive in bringing back slugger Marcell Ozuna, last year’s N.L. home run and RBI leader (18-56 in 60 games). The 30-year-old is receiving a four-year, $64 million deal, with a fifth-year club option. But 39 of Ozuna’s starts last year were as a DH and as of now, the players union nixed the universal DH for this season.
--The Cardinals needed to shed a little payroll after acquiring Nolan Arenado and traded outfielder Dexter Fowler and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash. St. Louis still has to pick up $12.75 million of Fowler’s $16.5 million salary this season, the soon-to-be 35-year-old’s skills long in decline, though he can be an effective piece and the Angels like his leadership qualities.
Then Milwaukee signed St. Louis free-agent second baseman Kolten Wong, a Gold Glove winner, to a 2-year, $18 million contract.
--I’ve chronicled Jordan Spieth’s many problems since his 2017 win in The Open Championship. The superstar who had ten wins from 2015-17, hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since, not even finishing second in any tournament and falling to 107 on the FedEx Cup points list last season.
So all he did on Saturday in the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale was fire ten birdies on his way to a 61, tied for first with Xander Schauffele, Schauffele not winning since 2019, but unlike Spieth, he has had seven runners-up in the interim.
Heading into today’s fourth round:
Scottie Scheffler -15
Kyoung-Hoon Lee -15
Well both Spieth and Schauffele got off to poor starts, while two-time winner James Hahn was going -5 on the front nine and we had….
KH Lee -16
And then out of nowhere, Brooks Koepka, the man I wrote during the week had missed three straight cuts for the first time in his career, starting the round four back, fired a 65, including a terrific eagle chip on the short par-4 17th, and held on to win by a shot over KH Lee and Schauffele, who put it in the water on 17, bogeyed the hole, or otherwise he could have emerged victorious, instead picking up his eighth runner-up finish since his last win.
Jordan Spieth finished T4, along with 53-year-old Steve Stricker, who was in the hunt to become the oldest PGA Tour winner but came up short.
As for Koepka it was his eighth career win, including the four majors…his second here at the WM.
I chronicled in great detail his injury issues, and the ever-blunt Koepka said after his round today that he had “been in some dark places,” not knowing if he’d ever get back to his past excellence. Rarely do you hear superstar athletes talk in such terms. Makes me respect the guy more.
Here’s the bottom line…this was a hugely important tournament for the sport. To have Koepka back in the winner’s circle, health issues resolved, and to have Spieth back is terrific.
So couple that with the guy I’m about to talk about, the World No. 1, the youngsters like Morikawa, Wolff, Hovland, and Scottie Scheffler…all we need now is for Rory to bust through.
And not for nothing, but this is such an enjoyable tournament…the great Arizona views as so many of us are tired of winter (we had another 8 inches of snow where I live today…on top of 30 last week…with more potentially on the way…), and a terrific final few holes, with great risk and reward on full display today.
The next two weeks aren’t bad either….Pebble Beach and Riviera.
--Dustin Johnson won the Saudi International today for the second time in three years, finishing second the other year. This is the last of three events in the “Gulf Swing” that launches 2021 on the European Tour. DJ finished two ahead of Justin Rose and Tony Finau.
These Gulf events are rather lucrative ones for the Americans who make the trip over. Johnson no doubt got a seven-figure appearance fee. Tiger once commanded $3 million to venture over, prompting Greg Norman’s caddie, Bart Collins, to say, “You can always use an extra million.”
Johnson now has four wins and three seconds in his last nine events, worldwide. As Larry David would say, “Pretty, pretty good.”
--Pete M. passed along a piece from Forbes on just how successful the golf equipment industry has been since last spring’s lockdown ended.
“Industry-wide, golf equipment sales topped $2.8 billion for 2020 at green grass pro shops and off-course specialty retail stores like PGA Tour Superstore, the third-highest annual total on record, Golf Datatech reported. Third-quarter sales set a record at over $1 billion, while December sales exceeded the previous all-time high (set in 2006) by 16% as gift-giving boomed.”
At the 45 PGA Tour Superstore locations, one of which opened a year ago near me, there was a 50% overall increase in sales of packaged club sets and an 84% increase in purchases of women’s club sets.
The trend for walking on the course was also pronounced, as the Superstore’s sales increased 55% for stand bags, 100% in practice gear and 200% in pull or push carts.
Optimism for 2021 is clearly warranted.
--We’ve had a slew of upsets since my last Chat….
Tuesday, Ole Miss beat 11 Tennessee 52-50.
Wednesday, East Carolina shocked 5 Houston 82-73. St. John’s also pulled off a shocker of its own, 70-59 over 3 Villanova, though St. John’s has been on a roll.
[Villanova bounced back Sunday, beating Georgetown 84-74.]
We had a biggie in the Big Ten Thursday, as 7 Ohio State defeated 8 Iowa 89-85.
Saturday, Oklahoma State beat 6 Texas in OT 75-67; while 17 West Virginia (13-5, 6-3) defeated 23 Kansas (12-7, 6-5) 91-79, which will finally send Kansas out of the Top 25.
25 Drake stayed undefeated (18-0, 9-0) after an 80-77 win over Valparaiso.
But then in this Covid crazy season, these two teams played again this afternoon and Valparaiso (7-12, 4-6 MVC) handed the Bulldogs their first loss, 74-57, Drake shooting just 23 of 63 from the field.
USC will enter the Top 25 after a 66-48 win over 21 UCLA, both teams now 9-2 in the Pac-12. I watched a lot of this one because I still get a kick out of listening to Bill Walton. He could make the Senate Impeachment Hearings this week sound like fun.
And I also watched a lot of Tennessee’s win over Kentucky, 82-71, sending the reeling Wildcats to 5-12, 4-6 in the SEC. I ended up tuning in because I totally forgot former Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr was on Kentucky, after Sarr decided to leave Wake to spend his final season under the tutelage of John Calipari.
Well, Sarr has been a huge disappointment after a solid junior season at Wake had him on track to eventually make an NBA team, perhaps after some seasoning overseas or in the G-League. Sarr starts every game but is averaging just 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.
--Today, 8 Iowa lost again, 67-65 at Indiana (10-8, 5-6), as the Hawkeyes fall to 13-6, 7-5, losers of 4 of their last 5. Luka Garza and Co. are struggling mightily to regain their Mojo.
--Back to St. John’s, Saturday it won its sixth in a row, 92-81 over Providence, to improve to 13-7, 7-6, while Seton Hall is now 8-5 in the Big East and still very much in the NCAA tournament hunt following an 80-73 victory over UConn.
--Quite a game in the NBA Saturday night, the Mavericks defeating the Warriors 134-132. Dallas has been one of the mysteries this season, now just 10-14 after going 43-32 last year, clearly a franchise on the up, led by superstar Luka Doncic. The Warriors at 12-10 have been a pleasant surprise.
So Doncic tied his career high with 42 points in a scoring duel with Stephen Curry, who went off for 57, 11 3-pointers. The only time the two-time MVP scored more in a game was a month ago when he had 62 against Portland.
--Speaking of Portland, my Knicks had a nice 110-99 win Saturday afternoon at the Garden over the Trail Blazers, New York now 11-13 and playing really solid ball under first-year coach Tom Thibodeau. It’s a young core, too, that is meshing. The future looks solid.
However, there is talk Thibodeau wants to acquire a player from his Bulls days, Derrick Rose, and Knicks fans have already seen the 32-year-old Rose and would hate him cutting into the playing time of sensational rookie Immanuel Quickley. So we’ll see what transpires here.
Alas, in this crazy NBA schedule, today the Knicks played a second matinee at MSG and lost to the Heat 109-103.
And tonight it seems a deal to bring Derrick Rose back is complete…the Knicks sending Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round pick to the Pistons. At first blush I don’t like this, but we’ll see.
--The Nets are super frustrated after this weekend. Friday night, in a total fiasco, the NBA sidelined Kevin Durant for Covid-19 contact tracing and the superstar had a two-word message for the league. “Free me.”
Though Durant had tested negative for coronavirus three times in the previous 24 hours – including twice on Friday – the Nets were still forced to make him a last-minute scratch from the starting lineup. Then, Durant was allowed to enter the game before being pulled off the court in the third quarter and kept out for the rest of the Nets’ 123-117 loss to the Raptors at Barclays Center.
Then Durant was held out of Saturday’s 124-108 loss to the Sixers (17-7), Brooklyn already shorthanded as Kyrie Irving was out with a finger injury. So the Nets fell to 14-11 in this must-win-it-all season. Durant could be out a while longer because the individual who had close contact with him did test positive…there had been some doubt on this Friday.
Durant has already recovered from Covid and has the antibodies.
--I follow the Atlanta Hawks because I like to see what former Demon Deacon John Collins is doing and the Hawks at 11-12 are another up-and-comer, in my humble estimation, with a fun core of Collins, Clint Capela and Trae Young. I’d pay to see them. Hope for Atlanta fans after three hideous seasons.
--The other night Toronto’s Fred VanVleet had himself quite a game. The undrafted guard in 2016 had a career-high 54 points Tuesday in the Raptors’ 123-108 victory against Orlando. It was also a franchise single-game record.
In doing so, VanVleet set a record for most points by an undrafted player in the common draft era (1966 and after), surpassing Moses Malone’s 53 points on Feb. 2, 1982, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
VanVleet made 17 of 23 from the field, including 11 of 14 from three, and he was 9 of 9 from the foul line.
The former Wichita State star signed a four-year, $85 million deal with the Raptors before the 2020-21 season began.
--The Utah Jazz are first in the West at 18-5 heading into this afternoon’s play and in keeping with the trend in today’s game, are currently on a record pace for 3-pointers per game, 17.1, which would best the 2018-19 Houston Rockets who made 16.1 per game.
The Jazz then won today, 103-95 over the Pacers, but were just 13 of 42 from downtown.
--If you listen to LeBron James and some other stars of the game, like Kawhi Leonard, there is no way they want to play in an All-Star Game currently planned for March.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said after the Lakers defeated the Nuggets 114-93 on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.”
James has a point. As he put it, “Short offseason for myself and my teammates, 71 days. And then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break. Five days [in March] from the 5th through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. My teammates as well. Some of the guys in the league.
“And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, um, pretty much kind of a slap in the face.”
And we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
But James said he would report for the game if he were to be named an All-Star for the 17th straight season, which of course he will be.
In watching the Knicks-Trail Blazers game yesterday, however, I was reminded that there are a lot of players who would love to play in an All-Star Game, such as the Knicks’ Julius Randle, who is having a terrific season and deserves to be selected.
--The league postponed Minnesota Wild games through Feb. 9 after five players were placed into the league’s Covid-19 protocol Wednesday. The five all tested positive and joined a sixth teammate already in protocol. The Wild had four games scheduled in the six days through Feb. 9. The entire team is quarantining at a Denver hotel after they had defeated the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
A huge weekend for Manchester City as they attempt to regain the title they lost to Liverpool last season. First, Saturday, Manchester United looked like it was going to continue to put the heat on in a thrilling match with Everton, only to have Everton score in the fifth minute of stoppage time for a 3-3 draw. 2 points lost by Man U.
Then today, in a total stunner, City’s Ilkay Gundogan, after airmailing a first-half penalty kick, 0-0 at the intermission, made amends by scoring twice to open play in the second half, after Liverpool’s Salah equalized at 1-1, and the Reds’ goalkeeper, Allisson, committed two horrendous errors, two atrocious clearances, and City went on to win 4-1. It was City’s first win at Anfield since 2003.
Meanwhile, Tottenham broke its losing streak, 2-0 over West Brom, which is facing relegation, as once again the only performers for the Spurs this season, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, scored the two goals. So Tottenham, due to Liverpool’s struggles, stayed in touch for the 4th Champions League slot.
And Chelsea moved up, playing in today’s late game, 2-1 over Sheffield.
Standings…21/23 of 38…Played…Points
1. Man City…22 – 50
2. Man U…23 – 45
3. Leicester City…23 – 43
4. Liverpool…23 – 40 …Champions League line
5. Chelsea…23 – 39
6. West Ham…23 – 39
7. Everton…21 – 37
8. Tottenham…22 – 36
9. Aston Villa…21 – 35
--The Australian Open is starting this week and there are still Covid issues with some of the players who came in contact with a hotel worker who tested positive for the virus. But organizers say there shouldn’t be any disruptions to actual play.
--We note the passing of former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, who died at the age of 67 after being diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer in 2019.
“His final fight was fought with the same skill, grace and grit that had carried him through so many lifetime challenges,” said a statement from his management company.
The former U.S. marine died on Friday evening in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife by his side.
“Leon…never lost his trademark smile. Showing true Spinks determination, he never threw in the towel,” the statement added.
Born in St. Louis, Spinks won gold at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, then rose to greater prominence a little more than 18 months later, given the nod via a split decision to stun Muhammad Ali and claim the WBC, WBA and lineal heavyweight titles.
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, Spinks defied his 10-1 underdog odds with bookmakers to prevail after 15 rounds, winning 145-140 and 144-141 on two scorecards while a third went 143-142 in favor Ali.
His reign as world champion lasted exactly seven months as a sharper and fitter Ali gained revenge in a rematch September 1978, becoming the first three-time lineal heavyweight champion after a comfortable points win.
Spinks did get another opportunity for heavyweight glory in June 1981, but was stopped inside three rounds by Larry Holmes.
Spinks would box another nine years and finished with a record of 26 wins, 17 defeats and three draws.
Known for his gap-toothed grin, Spinks’ battles in the ring contributed to his ill health in later life. It was found he had shrinkage in the brain in 2012 before his cancer diagnosis was confirmed a few years later.
Spinks’ younger brother, Michael, 64, was undisputed light-heavyweight champion for a period in the 1980s, before moving up to heavyweight, where he won the IBF title and avenged Leon’s loss to Holmes.
--Christopher Plummer passed away Friday. He was 91. Plummer, whether he liked it or not, will forever be known for his role of Capt. von Trapp, the imperious patriarch of the Trapp Family Singers in “The Sound of Music.”
I think it’s one of the great film roles of all time, but the classically trained actor found the character to be a tired, one-dimensional and wooden character, and the film syrupy, at best.
Plummer spent the rest of his life referring to the film as “The Sound of Mucus” or “S&M.” “We tried so hard to put humor into it,” he said in 2007. “It was almost impossible. It was just agony to try to make that guy not a cardboard figure.”
“I’m just sorry that after all the years of playing marvelous roles, to be known for something as saccharine as that,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1976. Still, he allowed, “It became easier for me to fill a theater.”
“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old-fashioned manners, self-deprecating humor and the music of words,” said Lou Pitt, Plummer’s friend and manager for 46 years. “He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”
Julie Andrews said: “The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend. I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years.”
Plummer honed his craft on the New York stage in the 1950s, and in London in the 1960s, when he performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater, taking on “many of the greatest parts ever written.”
But Plummer never took to leading men parts, despite his good looks and ever-so-slight English accent. He preferred character roles, considering them more meaty.
Plummer won the Oscar for best supporting actor at the age of 82 for “Beginners” in 2012, becoming the oldest person to win an acting award. However, it was his performance as frugal billionaire J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” that earned him the greatest plaudits in his final years.
Plummer was signed up to replace Kevin Spacey, who had become embroiled in Hollywood’s sexual harassment and abuse scandal, in hastily-organized re-shoots costing millions less than two months before the film’s world premiere. He received an Oscar nod at the age of 88, making him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category.
“I was just hopeful that at my age, my memory would serve me,” he said at the time. “I had to learn my lines very quickly.”
Plummer once said: “For a long time, I accepted parts that took me to attractive places in the world. Rather than shooting in the Bronx, I would rather go to the south of France, crazed creature that I am,” he told the AP in 2007. “And so I sacrificed a lot of my career for nicer hotels and more attractive beaches.”
On why he worked so hard so late in his career, Plummer told the AP in 2011: “Too many people in the world are unhappy with their lot. And then they retire and they become vegetables. I think retirement in any profession is death, so I’m determined to keep crackin’.”
--From Chris Sheldon / NJ.com
“A dog adopted from a Bergen County animal shelter recently saved her owner’s life after he suffered a stroke.
“Sadie, a 6-year-old German Shepherd, was adopted by a man named Brian a few months ago after she was surrendered to the Rampao-Bergen Animal Refuge in Oakland when her owner moved, the shelter said in a Facebook post.
“ ‘Though her bio noted that she was especially nervous with men, Brian felt a special bond with Sadie, as he valued her intelligence, hesitancy to trust and fierce loyalty once she did form that trust,’ the shelter said. ‘Brian gave Sadie a second chance at life, adopting Sadie and welcoming her home.’
“Last week, Brian suffered a stroke while home alone with Sadie, but after he collapsed, his loyal canine companion never left his side, the post stated.
“Sadie licked his face to keep him awake and helped drag him across the room to his cellphone so he could call for help, the shelter said.
“ ‘Sadie was the only reason that Brian was able to call for help,’ shelter officials said. ‘This time, Sadie gave Brian a second chance at life.’
“Sadie was staying with family this week while Brian recovered from his stroke in a rehab center, but the pair FaceTime every night, and were counting down the days until their reunion, the shelter said.”
--Country music star Morgan Wallen was dropped by his record label, after a video emerged of him using a racial slur.
Nashville’s Big Loud Records said it had “made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen’s recording contract indefinitely” in light of the video.
In the footage, reportedly filmed by a neighbor last weekend, the 27-year-old is seen saying goodbye to some friends and calling one of them the N-word.
Wallen apologized for the incident.
“I’m embarrassed and sorry,” he told TMZ, which first published the footage.
“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”
Wallen, who was recently on SNL (a delayed performance after he had broken Covid protocols instituted by the show weeks earlier), started his career with an appearance on “The Voice,” and his latest record, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” has been number one on the Billboard chart for the last three weeks; and his last four singles have reached number one on the country airplay chart.
But the industry’s response was swift and decisive.
Within 24 hours of TMZ publishing its video, Wallen’s music was pulled from the airwaves by iHeartMedia, the largest radio station group in the U.S., which owns more than 850 stations, including 135 country music stations, and then Cumulus Media and Entercom removed his music from their playlists.
And the Academy of Country Music said it was revoking Wallen’s “potential involvement and eligibility” for this year’s awards.
So what has the response been? Wallen’s sales have exploded further, both physical and streaming.
Personally, I like the guy’s music. I’ve said before, as much as I focus on rock ‘n’ roll, I play country music in the car on weekends.
--Jim Weatherly, the former star quarterback at the University of Mississippi who moved to Nashville and authored megahits such as “Midnight Train to Georgia” in a prolific career as a singer-songwriter, died at his home Wednesday. He was 77.
Weatherly helped lead Ole Miss to an undefeated season, the 1962 SEC championship and the national championship, according to several ratings (AP No. 3). The Rebels won the SEC championship again in 1963.
After graduating, Weatherly, a Pontotoc, Mississippi, native, pursued a career in music over football and experienced great success.
He wrote some of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ greatest hits including “Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye,” “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.”
Weatherly was a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1974. He wrote songs for the likes of Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers and Ray Price to name a few.
--Lastly, we note the passing of Danny Ray. Who was Danny Ray? Why he was none other than “The Cape Man.” As in it was Danny Ray who handed James Brown his cape when Brown would collapse in a cold sweat. Ray would come on stage, pick up the cape and brush it off as life overwhelms Brown a second time, then a third.
For more than 45 years, valet Ray rushed to help the Godfather of Soul during that climactic moment, in the process playing a crucial costarring role in Brown’s magnetic stage show. Whenever Brown collapsed with feigned grief during the song “Please, Please, Please,” Ray was there to comfort Brown (just in case he fainted from desperation).
Ray’s death at age 85 was announced on Wednesday by the James Brown Estate. Describing him in a statement as “the legendary emcee and cape man for James Brown,” the statement called Ray “the second hardest working man in show business.”
Top 3 songs for the week 2/9/74: #1 “Love’s Theme” (Love Unlimited Orchestra) #2 “The Way We Were” (Barbra Streisand) #3 “You’re Sixteen” (Ringo Starr)…and…#4 “Americans” (Byron MacGregor) #5 “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” (Aretha Franklin…one of my faves of hers…) #6 “Let Me Be There” (Olivia Newton-John) #7 “Spiders & Snakes” (Jim Stafford) #8 “Show And Tell” (Al Wilson…great tune…) #9 “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination” (Gladys Knight & The Pips) #10 “Jungle Boogie” (Kool & The Gang…this one sounds even better today…B+ week…)
Olympic Boxing Quiz Answer: The 1976 U.S. Olympic Boxing team is universally felt to be the greatest in history with five gold medalists.
Ray Leonard…Light welterweight
Leon Spinks…Light heavyweight
All but Davis would win professional world titles, Davis coming close a few times.
This was the Games where Cuba’s great Teofilo Stevenson won the heavyweight division. He also won Gold in 1972 and 1980.
Next Bar Chat, Tuesday night.