2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

Years from now, when people look back on 2010, what will they remember as the defining sports moment? Uh, they can only pick one? We discovered that Tiger Woods likes to play the field and that Brett Favre doesn’t mind sending pictures of his anatomy to hot sideline reporters via text message. We found out that LeBron listens to his friends a little too much and that Ben Roethlisberger needed a serious lesson in humility. But we also learned that athletes such as Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton haven’t blown second chance opportunities (or third and fourth chances in the case of Hamilton). It was also nice to see a certain pitcher turn down bigger money so that he can play in a city that he loves.

We’ve done our best to recap the year’s biggest sports stories, staying true to tradition by breaking our Year End Sports Review into three sections: What We Learned, What We Already Knew, and What We Think Might Happen. Up first are the things we learned in 2010, a list that’s littered with scandal, beasts, a Decision and yes, even a little Jenn Sterger.

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

Tiger Woods gets around.

We hesitate to put this under “golf” because the only clubs involved were his wife’s nine-iron hitting the window of his SUV and the various establishments where Tiger wined and dined all of his mistresses…over a dozen in all. This was the biggest story of the early part of the year, but it got to the point that whenever a new alleged mistress came forward, the general public was like, “Yeah, we get it. Tiger screwed around on his wife. A lot.” He has spent the rest of the year attempting to rebuild his once-squeaky clean image, but it’s safe to say, we’ll never look at Tiger the same way.

Golfer Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior during his first public statement to a small gathering of reporters and friends at the headquarters of the U.S. PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida,on February 19, 2010.   UPI/Sam Greenwood/Pool Photo via Newscom

LeBron wilts when his team needs him most.

Say the words “LeBron” and “Game 5” in the same sentence and NBA fans everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. In the biggest game of the season, LeBron looked disinterested, going 3-of-14 from the field en route to a 120-88 blowout at home at the hands of the Celtics. There were rumors swirling about a possible relationship between LeBron’s mom and his teammate, Delonte West, and there’s speculation that LeBron got that news before tipoff and that’s why he played so poorly. Regardless of the cause, LeBron played awful in that game, and it turned out to be his swan song in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. Talk about leaving a bitter taste.

You can auction off your talented son’s athletic abilities and get away with it.

The NCAA set a strange precedent this season while dealing with the Newton family. The always inconsistent and completely morally uncorrupt NCAA decided in its infinite wisdom that despite discovering that Cecil Newton shopped his son Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000, and that is a violation of NCAA rules, that Cam would still be eligible because it couldn’t be proven that he knew about it. Conference commissioners and athletic directors around the country spoke out about the decision, while agent-wannabes and greedy fathers everywhere had a light bulb go off in their own heads: As long as we say the player doesn’t know about it, it could go off without a hitch. What was Cecil’s punishment in this whole thing? Limited access to Auburn for the last two games of the season. Easy with that hammer there, NCAA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cam Newton says he chose Auburn “the right way,” is already using third person like a champ

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 04: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers stretches before the 2010 SEC Championship against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Cam Newton recently told ESPN that Auburn was “best for Cam Newton” and that’s why he chose to play there and not Mississippi State. Not because his dad shopped around his services to the highest bidder.

“I had no dealings with nobody at Mississippi State during the time that I came to Auburn,” Newton said. “But Mississippi State knows it was between Mississippi State and Auburn. And if you’ve been following this, there’s no secret. But I felt that, as a whole, Auburn possessed what’s best for Cam Newton, and that’s why I decided to come here on my decision.”

He said telling Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen — who had been an assistant at Florida when Newton went there two years prior — he would be going to Auburn was difficult. ESPN reported Nov. 9 that Newton had told a Mississippi State recruiter that his father had chosen Auburn because “the money was too much.

“I’m not here to talk about any reports,” Newton said.

“I called Coach Mullen. I told him what I had in my heart at the time. I talked to him and his wife, Miss Megan, and we had an excellent conversation. They wished me the best, and I wished them the best.”

Uh, huh.

Newton may be telling the truth but a couple of things don’t add up here. First of all, did he tell a Mississippi State recruiter that his father had chosen Auburn because of the money or not? If he didn’t and he has nothing to hide, why not deny the report? Instead, he skirts the issue by saying he’s “not here to talk about any reports.”

Granted, maybe somebody instructed him to say anything but I thought honesty was always the best policy? If you have nothing to hide, then scream it from the rooftops until somebody listens.

The other thing that doesn’t add up is why he chose Auburn over Mississippi State. It’s not like Auburn was a powerhouse program before he got there and he already had a relationship with Bulldogs’ coach Dan Mullen. So why Auburn? Was it money perhaps?

Anthony Stalter is having a hard time believing that Cecil Newton didn’t ask Mississippi State for cash and when they didn’t deliver, he turned around and got something from Auburn instead. That’s just one outsider’s opinion, but it’s not difficult to connect the dots. The sad part is that Cam is now caught up in something from which he may or may not have benefited. Anthony Stalter is not suggesting he’s innocent, but it sure sounds as though Cecil was the catalyst for this entire situation.

And shame on him (Cecil, not Anthony Stalter) if he was.

Was Auburn booster involved in the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal?

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 06: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers stretches before play against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Milton McGregor may become a name that grows synonymous with the Cam Newton pay-for-play scandal involving Auburn and Mississippi State.

The FBI is looking into whether or not McGregor (an Auburn booster) was involved in the recruitment process for Newton last year. Apparently the FBI arrested McGregor last month in a bribery sting over an attempt to buy off politicians in order to pay off gambling debts. Just two years ago, he reportedly gave Auburn one million and is considered to be a major booster for the school.

Those that believe the university didn’t have anything to do with a pay-for-play deal with Newton and that a rouge booster was involved now have a catalyst in McGregor. This doesn’t mean Auburn would be let off the hook, but in the eyes of the NCAA it’s better if a booster acted alone in this situation.

In a related report, ESPN.com says that a Mississippi State booster named Bill Bell told the NCAA that he received a text message from Kenny Rogers outlining a payment plan for Newton to sign with MSU. According to the report, there was a three-way phone conversation between Bell, Rogers and Cam’s father Cecil about how the payments would work ($80,000 the day after Cam signed, $50,000 30 days later and then another $50,000 60 days later).

“When he asked for it, it was like, ‘Bam! He (Rogers) told me this kid’s dad is going to want money and the next day he sent me a text message. He didn’t say anything other than, ‘This is what I want and I want it in three installments.’ ”

“(Cecil Newton) didn’t come out and say, ‘I want $180,000,’ He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and [Cecil Newton] never corrected him or said, ‘No, that’s not what we’re doing.’ ”

“He said it was going to take more than just a relationship with Dan Mullen and that Cam’s relationship with Mullen wasn’t what Mullen thought it was. That’s when he said, ‘Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he’s going to get my son.’ “

I’m no Columbo, but if you read between the lines it appears as though Bell told Rogers and Newton to buzz off but McGregor obliged to pay the freight. And thus, that’s why Cam is currently running around on Saturdays in an Auburn Tigers uniform.

But that’s just speculation on my part and I encourage everyone not to jump to conclusions before all the facts come out. There is new information on this scandal everyday and I’m sure mores to come.

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