Click here for Today's Sign of the Apocalypse, Game to Watch, Leading Off gallery and much more!
Seeing as how Thanksgiving is upon us, I thought I'd take a few minutes to offer up some thanks.
I'm thankful my SI.com editor, Paul Fichtenbaum, is allowing me to use the most hackneyed Thanksgiving column device ever invented: The List of Things I'm Thankful For.
I'm thankful Ron Artest won't be sharing a Thanksgiving meal with me and my family. Imagine what would happen if he asked for a dinner roll, and someone tossed one in his direction.
I'm thankful I live in a country in which it will soon be possible for me to sit even closer to professional football players. Perhaps this will allow me to heave a dinner roll at one of them and be pummeled, which in turn might allow me to appear on Larry King Live with my lawyer. (Seriously, way to watch the headlines, NFL. And I'm not just talking about the Malice in the Palace; a Nebraska player was just charged with assaulting a member of Oklahoma's Ruf/Neks, a group that practically sits on the field and fires pop guns at the opposing team.)
I'm thankful I was able to spend the first day of my Thanksgiving break in Alabama without having to listen to a single Auburn fan rant about the BCS. I moved here when I was nine, so I have no love for Auburn or Alabama. I'm one of about 17 completely neutral parties in the state, and frankly, I've had a good case of Iron Bowl Schadenfreude brewing for years. But, Auburn is getting shafted. I hate to echo the sentiments of Josh Elliott, but I've got to echo the sentiments of Josh Elliott, who last week argued in favor of a playoff. (I tease because I love, big fella.) An aside: the so-called Plus One idea is the silliest thing ever. It's a perfect system if four title-worthy teams are out there and are, in some form, playing each other. If that's not the case, it either leaves a worthy team out of the mix or subjects a squad that has lifted itself above the rest to face another test. The moral is: there's no way anyone's ever going to devise a non-playoff system that will work every year. It depends too much on the field that particular season.
I'm thankful I live in a country where people still get outraged when someone makes a video game in which players try to shoot JFK from the Texas School Book Depository.
I'm thankful there's still hope Sean Salisbury and John Clayton will finally admit they like and respect each other and embrace on the air. Or they'll fight to the death. Either one would be cool.
Submit a comment or question for Mark.
I'm thankful it's been at least a fortnight since someone sent me an e-mail calling me a jackass. Keep those missives coming.
I'm thankful I live in a country that turns out soccer talents like Landon Donovan. I just wish I could still see him play here. He's returning to Germany, which is good for him, bad for Major League Soccer. Last year the troika of Donovan, Bobby Convey and DaMarcus Beasley had U.S. soccer fans -- yes, there are at least 168 of us -- so excited that someone started a thread on a bigsoccer.com message board about what nickname they should be given. (My favorite: Lanmarcus Conovan, with Cerberus a close second.) Alas, they've all jumped ship to play overseas. It's a good sign that we're turning out talent, and perhaps it was naïve to think MLS wouldn't be a selling league, but it's a bummer they won't be around as much.
I'm thankful Ice Cube, who burst onto the scene with NWA's F--- Tha Police, is starring in what from the trailer looks like a remake of my favorite movie, Midnight Run -- except that instead of transporting a wry middle-aged man (Charles Grodin, playing himself) across the country to get on the good side of a bail bondsman, he's transporting two kids across the country to get on the good side of their mother. Need I tell you hijinks ensue? F Tha Police? No, F whoever tries to keep me from the cinema.
I'm thankful for guys who go out on top: Ricky Williams, who I hope stays on the sidelines finishing up that Indian healing class he started, and Dan Rather, who was at his most entertaining on election night. My only wish is that his final act as CBS anchor will be to interview Ricky.
And finally, I'm thankful I don't work for Kirstie Alley. She doesn't strike me as the kind of employer who'd cotton to a lame gimmick list -- even on Thanksgiving. Plus, it'd be physically impossible for me to wet nurse her possum.
Mark Bechtel covers NASCAR for Sports Illustrated and SI.com.