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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Antoine Dodson is an Internet Star But at What Cost??

"Hide yo' kids, hide yo' wife. They raping everyone out here" and "He's climbing in yo' windows and snatching yo' people up," have already started to become known catchphrases and the butt of jokes, the same way statements like "hood rat things with my friends" did. But at what cost?

Huntsville, Ala., resident Kelly Dodson was attacked in the middle of the night when a man climbed through her window and attempted to rape her. Luckily her brother Antoine heard the commotion, came into her room and scared the attacker away. The local news station, WAFF, covered the story and unintentionally turned Dodson into an Internet star. But should they really be proud of what they have done?

Jezebel covered the whole shebang, discussing the social implications of memes and Internet celebrity, arguing in this case that the rape has been made secondary.

"The fact that an attempted rape was pushed aside by the internet in favor of "oh my God, this guy is so funny" doesn't necessarily surprise me," the Jezebel writer says. "But it's still frustrating when one considers that the viral video angle seems to be more of a focus for the channel following this story than the actual attempted rape itself."

We completely agree that the rape has been made secondary to the Antoine's so-called "performance." We're also pretty sure that none of Antonie's 22,000+ Facebook fans are there to help the Dodson family find the rapist. But we believe the people in these viral videos, like Latarian Milton, also known as the arbiter of all things "hoodrat," are sincere. People think they're funny because they say things people don't conventionally say on TV or use uneducated language, which when you think about it isn't really funny at all. Jezebel brings up the difference between laughing with and at because, well, the people in these videos aren't laughing.

On the one hand, things are sometimes taken too seriously. People often make jokes about the most offensive stuff, sometimes it's even how we humans deal with pain. But there are real underlying social issues here, including laughing at people that are less educated and have almost been raped.

How do you feel about Dodson's Internet fame?

A Speech That Brought Fans to Tears, Even Emmitt Smith at the Hall of Fame!!

During yesterday's Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, former Detroit Lions cornerback and current Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau talked to the Steelers team that broke camp to come and watch him get inducted. Washington Redskins offensive lineman Russ Grimm remembered his Pennsylvania roots, asking the crowd, "How yinz doin'?" Legendary defensive tackle John Randle may have set a land speed record for the shortest induction speech, quite a surprise for a guy who was so loquacious on the field with the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks.

New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Rickey Jackson spoke emotionally about his time in the game. Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little spoke of the deeds of his children with great pride and eloquence. Jerry Rice remembered how he ran scared all the way through his career.

But the hands-down moment of the 2010 Hall of Fame ceremony was a moving and heartfelt tribute from one teammate to another. After a Jerry Jones-narrated intro montage of his career highlights, Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith took the podium and delivered an unforgettable speech. First of all, he was remarkably well-spoken for someone who's taken some heat for his public speaking in the past, and it was good to see -- he spoke with a clear voice and a very strong resolve. Typical of his unselfish nature, Smith spent most of his time thanking others. And 10 minutes in, after he thanked Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin -- the two other "Triplets", things got really good.

The crowd started chanting "Moose!" before Emmitt could even mention his name, and that where he went next - asking fullback Daryl "Moose" Johnston to be recognized.

"Daryl Johnston, where are you? Would you please stand?"

"Daryl, you mean the world to me. Not just because we shared the same backfield, but because you sacrificed so much for me. People don‘t understand what it took to be a fullback in our system - the sacrifices you made not just with your body, but your whole spirit. You took care of me as though you were taking care of your little brother. Without you, I know today would not have been possible.

"I love you, Daryl -- from the bottom of my heart."

Smith started tearing up halfway through this soliloquy, and I defy anyone who loves the game and understands the importance of the the efforts of many in the ultimate team sport to watch that part of the speech and not get a little misty-eyed yourself. While Smith lasted long enough to set the NFL's all-time rushing mark, Johnston's career was cut short by a neck injury. It was as great a reminder as you'll see why when former players are asked about what they miss most about the game, they will almost always mention the camaraderie -- the moments they shared with their teammates as they went through the wars together.

On this night, Emmitt Smith did himself, his beloved teammates, and the Hall of Fame proud.

Better Late Than Never Right?? LeBron Thanks the fans in Cleveland!!

AKRON, Ohio (AP)—LeBron James(notes) finally thanked his fans in Cleveland on Saturday, making his first public appearance since he left the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

At his annual “King for Kids” charity bike-a-thon in downtown Akron, James addressed a friendly crowd of several hundred people who cheered as he took the podium.

“To the city of Cleveland, my fans in Cleveland, my fans in northeast Ohio,” said James, “I want to say thank you for the last seven years and the years that continue to go in the future.”

Then he repeated the thank you to Cleveland a second time, as if for extra emphasis.

“So I want to thank the city of Cleveland, also northeast Ohio, for all the great years that I’ve had,” he said.

Last week, James came under fire for taking out a full-page newspaper ad in the Akron Beacon Journal in which he thanked the city of Akron for its support. The ad contained no mention of Cleveland, where James got his start in the NBA.

Emotions are still running high among Cleveland fans who felt betrayed by James, who was revered in that city for years.

After James left for Miami to join Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes), Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sent off a scathing letter to Cleveland fans vowing to win a title before James does.

But in Akron, at least, James is still very much loved by the people who watched him grow up. After giving his brief speech—and without answering any questions from the media—James hopped on a bicycle and joined about 400 children who received free bicycles along the one-mile course.

Wearing a red shirt with the word “Akron” printed on it, James also thanked that city and its mayor for extending open arms to the player and his family. He said this is the most precious day of the year for him.

“Because I’m able to give back to the city that I grew up in, the city that I love,” James said to cheers. “And the city that I will always give back to.”

Most fans were pleased to see him, and didn’t understand the vitriol that has been directed at James from the rest of northeast Ohio since he left.

“This is his home. He’s been very supportive of us in the past,” said Tony Morganti, a Cavs fan from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. “He said he’s going to continue to be so, and I think this just proves it.”

Silva is the new COMEBACK KID!!!

OAKLAND, Calif. – There have been times during his stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship that Anderson Silva has looked invincible. He made Rich Franklin, one of the elite fighters in the modern era of MMA, look like a bush leaguer.

He embarrassed Forrest Griffin, a former light heavyweight champ, and humbled former PRIDE champion Dan Henderson. Dana White, the UFC’s president, for years has called him the best fighter in the world.

But then, on a night when he was pummeled for nearly 23 minutes, Silva pulled off perhaps his greatest victory. He absorbed more than four rounds of punishment from trash-talking top contender Chael Sonnen and looked as if his long winning streak would crash while surrendering his middleweight title.

Suddenly, he was celebrating with one of the most thrilling and improbable wins of his storied career. Flat on his back and taking a brutal battering, Silva wrapped his long legs around Sonnen’s neck and caught him in a triangle choke with just 1:50 remaining to retain his belt in the main event of UFC 117 Saturday before 12,971 delirious fans at Oracle Arena.

Sonnen, a former All-American wrestler who earlier this year embarked upon a nonstop trash talk campaign, repeatedly took Silva down and hammered the champion from the top position. He landed punches and elbows seemingly at will. Several times, referee Josh Rosenthal was on his front foot, leaning in as if he were about to stop the bout.

Then, in a flash, in what is likely to be remembered as the greatest match in UFC history: It was over, with an ending that left jaws agape.

“I can’t sugarcoat it,” Sonnen said. “My heart is broken.”

Sonnen turned what would have been a perfunctory card into a significant event with his trash talk. He pegged himself as the toughest man in the UFC, claimed he had never lost so much as a round, despite 10 previous defeats, ripped Silva personally and professionally and mocked Silva’s manager, Ed Soares.

He said he’d beat Silva so badly that he would force Silva to retire or make White release him.

Sonnen got a chuckle out of many and a rise out others, but not many took his bravado seriously. Silva, after all, came into the fight ranked first in the world and holding UFC records for consecutive wins (11, now 12) and championship wins (seven, now eight).

Sonnen, though, did nearly everything he said he’d do. He did well standing with the champion, he used his superior wrestling to repeatedly take Silva down and he unloaded a barrage of blows on the ground.

The only thing he failed to do was to finish the fight on his feet with the belt around his waist. Again, he fell victim to the old submission bugaboo. This one hurt that much more, not only because of the significance of the bout but also because he was so far ahead that he conceivably could have stalled the last two minutes and won.
Chad Sonnen pounded Anderson Silva for four rounds and had the fight in his pocket. But he refused to stall in the final round.
(AP Photo)

After four rounds, he held an insurmountable lead on the scorecards. Nelson Hamilton gave Sonnen a 10-8 in both the first and third rounds and favored Sonnen 40-34 after four. Dan Stell had it 40-35 and Jon Schorle saw it 40-36. Though there was no way Silva could have won a decision, Sonnen said he’d never considered a stall.

“In order to keep him down and to secure that position so the referee allows you to work, you have to work,” Sonnen said. “You have to stay busy. I didn’t know how much time was left. I heard someone reference that there was about a minute and 10 seconds left. I didn’t know that and, frankly, you even get lost about what round it is. He hit me real hard a couple of times. He kicked me real hard a couple of times.

“You get a little disoriented. You’re in the middle of a fistfight on a Saturday night. There’s not a lot of thinking. A lot of people like to talk about strategy and thinking and blah, blah, blah. Come on. This is a fistfight in the middle of Oakland, California, in a steel cage.”

It was, but it will be remembered as one of the best that the UFC has ever put on. Silva was his usual low-key self after the match and said he held no animosity toward Sonnen, despite the six-month torrent of trash talk.

“What happens in the ring is in the ring and once it’s over, it’s done,” Silva said.

But Silva managed to earn Sonnen’s respect for the strikes he landed, the submission he scored and, more importantly, the punishment he absorbed. There are few men who would have been able to take a beating for four rounds like Silva did and make it out for the fifth.

Grudgingly, Sonnen gave Silva his due, though he wasn’t about to apologize for his prefight words. He did one interview in which he said cyclist Lance Armstrong gave himself cancer by taking performance-enhancing drugs, then appeared on Jim Rome’s national radio show and denied it was him who said it.

He praised Silva’s toughness, but stood his ground otherwise.

“There is no question that this sport isn’t like any other,” Sonnen said. “We have world championships in basketball and football, but in reality, those are national championships. This sport is very unique. We scoured Planet Earth and we came down to the two best guys. If you go look at the rankings tomorrow morning, we’re going to be the two best guys.

“I don’t apologize for anything and I’m not backing off my stance. If I ever did, I would send myself a pink slip and move on in life. I have one goal in life and that is to be the world champion. I am not backing off that goal because of tonight’s decision. Nothing at all [I would change] unless it was to work even harder and to prepare even more. But I’m not Dog the Bounty Hunter and I don’t issue apologies.”

No apologies were needed, not after a spectacular show was capped with a stunning fight that ended in a hard-to-believe manner. And Silva, who had already done so much, accomplished a bit more on Saturday.

This one, more than any of his awe-inspiring wins, will be the one that defines his career. He’s had lackluster defenses over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites and was horrific in a win over Demian Maia in a win at UFC 112 in which he fooled around more than he fought, but this fight will deservedly take precedence.

“This was a legendary fight tonight,” White said. “This is one of those fights where Anderson Silva went up a notch.”

Or two. After taking that beating and finding a way to finish, his stature has never been greater.

“It was the two best guys in the world out there,” Sonnen said dejectedly. “He’s No. 1 and I’m No. 2. It hurts. My heart is broken, because that’s not what I came here for, to finish second. Anderson is a great fighter and he did what he had to do. Give that to him.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

About Time: Roy Oswalt to the Phillies is a done deal

As you've probably heard by now, it is official. Roy Oswalt(notes) has waived his no-trade clause and agreed to bring his pitching talents and $11 million of Drayton McLane's money — though sadly not Oswalt's Mike Scott-era throwback uniform — to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In return, the Houston Astros will receive starting pitcher J.A. Happ(notes) and minor league prospects Anthony Gose (an outfielder) and Jonathan Villar (a shortstop). Houston general manager Ed Wade will receive a fruit basket from grateful Phillies fans as this might qualify as the best move he ever made for the Phillies — even counting the time he was Philadelphia's GM.

So what to make of this deal?

So long as we resist the urge to make the easy Cliff Lee(notes) comparison and view the move in a vacuum, it's a good one for the Phillies. Add Oswalt to Roy Halladay(notes) and Cole Hamels(notes) and they arguably have the best top-three starters in the National League. As long as their offense can stop being inconsistent and return to its explosive self, they have a solid shot at their third straight NL pennant.

As for the Astros, this trade doesn't smell quite as nice when you consider that Oswalt was their most attractive tradebait and the haul they came away with was less than stellar. Then again, Oswalt didn't make things easy for the team to create a fierce market during his drawn-out soap opera of a trade demand. Wade had a lot of roadblocks to work around.

Now that this deal is complete and the top-three starters — Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Dan Haren(notes) — are off the trading block, it looks like we're in for a somewhat sedate deadline as it approaches on Saturday afternoon. Get ready for plenty of Adam Dunn(notes) and Ted Lilly(notes) speculation.

T.O. misses flight to Bengals camp!! WTF??

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP)—Terrell Owens(notes) arrived fashionably late, received a white jersey with his favorite number, and got a smattering of applause for doing even the simplest thing.

Every catch was an event.

A few thousand fans showed up for Owens’ first practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, who signed him to a one-year deal on Thursday evening, then got a preliminary glimpse of what the 36-year-old receiver has left.

“He hasn’t slowed down,” quarterback Carson Palmer(notes) said. “He’s a guy that’s kind of ageless and he’s still got a lot left in the tank.”

The day didn’t come off as planned.

Owens missed an overnight flight that would have brought him to town earlier in the day, allowing for a proper introduction. Instead, he caught a later flight, rolled in less than an hour before an evening practice and suited up without talking to the media.

He and buddy Chad Ochocinco(notes) were the last two to jog onto the field, drawing loud applause. Owens occasionally waved to the fans in appreciation, but played it comparatively low-key throughout the two-hour workout.

So began the TO-and-Ocho era.

“It’s a circus,” Palmer said. “Him and Chad, them being them. It’s funny. I was laughing.”

Owens wore his customary No. 81, part of a deal he made with the previous owner. Receiver Antonio Bryant(notes) got the number when the Bengals chose him over Owens in the offseason, giving him a four-year deal. Bryant said after a morning practice that he had already talked to Owens and agreed to give up his number.

“I’m a realist,” Bryant said. “I said, ‘Hey, man, I’m not going to make no big spectacle about it. You’ve got a bigger legacy and a number than I do. I’ve been on several teams like you, but I’ve changed my number several times. You’ve had the same number.

“I don’t need your money,” Bryant said. “All I want you to do is take care of one of my little league programs in Miami. Send them a small donation and we’ll go from there.”’

First, Owens had to arrive. It wasn’t as easy as planned.

The Bengals expected him to show up early in the day, take his physical and sign his one-year contract while the rest of the team held its first workout. They scheduled an introductory news conference after the morning practice.

The news conference had to be rescheduled for after the evening session because Owens missed his red-eye flight.

On his Twitter account, Owens mentioned the delay.

“My Press conf about my “Decision” 2 take my talents 2 Cincy will b held 2nite after 7pm practice!!” he tweeted, playing off LeBron James’ one-hour television show announcing his decision to leave Cleveland.

Owens also misspelled Cincinnati in one of his tweets and was corrected by a follower.

“Okayyyyyy I got it now, 2 n’s & 1 t! CINCINNATI!! LOL!” he tweeted.

With Owens showing up late, Bryant was a focus of the Bengals’ first workout — for his knee, not his number.

He had surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee during training camp with Tampa Bay last year. He was limited to 39 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns. The Bengals signed him to a $28 million deal, hoping he would provide another outside threat with Ochocinco.

Bryant backed off workouts last month because the muscles around the left knee didn’t feel strong enough. He went through drills tentatively on Thursday, never running at full speed, and planned to sit out the evening practice to work on strengthening the leg.

“The only thing I’m struggling with right now is just being comfortable and mentally just putting (the left foot) down and doing what I want to do without thinking, ‘Oh, I might feel pain,”’ Bryant said. “That’s my biggest hurdle right now.”

Coach Marvin Lewis insisted that Bryant’s knee problem had nothing to do with the decision to sign Owens this week. Bryant isn’t so sure.

“If I owned the team, I would definitely go after the best players if possible, especially with the situation they acquired him,” Bryant said. “I definitely would have went after the guy.”

Running back Cedric Benson(notes) fully participated in the workout. Benson met last week with commissioner Roger Goodell about his offseason arrest in Texas on a charge of misdemeanor assault. Benson is accused of punching a bar employee, a charge he has denied.

Benson hasn’t heard anything more from Goodell, who could discipline him.

“We had a good talk, a good session,” Benson said. “I guess no news is good news.”

Police: Ex-NBA player Wright shot to death!!!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Former NBA big man Lorenzen Wright(notes), whose body was found in the woods outside Memphis, was shot to death and the case is being investigated as a homicide, police said Thursday.

Police wouldn’t answer questions about motive or suspects. But records indicate that Wright, 34, revered in his hometown as a generous and likable sports hero, was probably carrying a large amount of cash when he disappeared on July 18. A court affidavit obtained by The Associated Press also said Wright had sold two vehicles to a man affiliated with a Memphis drug ring that’s suspected in six deaths.

His family filed a missing person report with police on July 22, four days after he was last seen, but investigators repeatedly said they didn’t suspect foul play. Wright’s mother said in the report that she was worried because his silence was out of character and “he probably has a large amount of cash on him.”
Lorenzen Wright with the Cavaliers in 2009.
(Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The report said that the day he disappeared, he had been dropped off at a restaurant by a woman and later taken to his ex-wife’s house in Collierville, a Memphis suburb. The ex-wife, Sherra Wright, told officers that Wright left her home in the middle of the night with someone.

Family members said Wright’s body was found near an apartment complex in southeast Memphis on Wednesday, but police awaited dental records to confirm his identity. Police on Thursday said a 911 call was placed from Wright’s cell phone early on July 19 and investigators determined it came from the area his body was found.

Court documents show that Wright acknowledged to the FBI that in 2008 he sold two luxury vehicles, a Mercedes sedan and a Cadillac SUV, to Bobby Cole. The affidavits about the business deal don’t show if Wright knew that Cole had been indicted in 2007 on drug distribution charges or if they knew each other.

Cole told the FBI he was connected to the organization run by Craig Petties, an accused drug kingpin charged with racketeering and conspiracy in six murders.

In 2008, Cole offered to turn over to Drug Enforcement Administration agents three vehicles he bought with drug money, including a 2007 Cadillac Escalade SUV and a 2008 Mercedes Benz S63 that had been registered to Wright.

Wright told agents he had sold two vehicles to Cole and he no longer owned them, although registration records listed the Cadillac in Wright’s name and the Mercedes in one of Wright’s business investments, Allwright Automotive LLC.

In federal court filings, Lorenzen Wright claimed ownership of the cars and said he didn’t know the property was used in a crime. A federal judge entered a default judgment in favor of the government in March 2010 and the vehicles were forfeited and the case closed.

The 6-foot-11 Wright played 13 seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and most recently the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wright left the University of Memphis early for the NBA, and the Clippers made him a lottery pick with the No. 7 selection overall.

He averaged 8 points and 6.4 rebounds in 778 career games.

Wright leaves behind six children, his mother Deborah Marion, and father Herb Wright, who coached his son from a wheelchair after he was shot in the spine. Lorenzen Wright 11-month-old daughter, Sierra, died in March 2003 of sudden infant death syndrome.

Longtime friend Kevin Nelson remembered Wright as a well-meaning person who treated people with respect.

“He was a people person, he never met a stranger,” Nelson said. “It really hit us hard.”

Nearly 200 people had turned up Wednesday at the crime scene after hearing that police might have found Wright’s body. Among them was former NBA star Penny Hardaway, who played at Memphis two years before Wright and heard the news from a friend.

“I cried. The emotions hit me immediately. It’s just sad because we lost a good person and a brother,” Hardaway said.

Wright’s friends also questioned why police didn’t act with more urgency, pointing to the 911 call.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper, which first reported the call, said a dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown heard a garbled male voice say an expletive and then at least 10 gunshots. The call went dead and no one answered when the dispatcher called back, the newspaper reported.

Collierville spokesman Mark Heuberger said he couldn’t comment on whether his department knew about the call. Family spokeswoman Camelle Logan, Wright’s cousin, declined comment.

Associated Press Writers Teresa Walker and Kristin Hall contributed to this report.