Saturday, December 31, 2011

Abbie's NFL Picks - Week 17

Patriots over Bills
Jets over Dolphins
Bengals over Ravens
Chiefs over Broncos
Giants over Cowboys

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bruins deliver top ratings for NESN

From NESN -



NESN’S BRUINS RATINGS REACH NEW HEIGHTS IN 2011
16 of NESN’s Top 20 All-Time Regular Season Game Ratings Recorded This Season

December 30, 2011 -- NESN’s Bruins ratings continue to set records this season as the network set its three best all-time regular season household game ratings in November and December. In addition, NESN has notched 16 of its 20 best all-time Bruins ratings in the past two months alone. Currently NESN’s household average rating is at 5.0, up 85% over last season after the same number of games (31).

Below is a chart listing NESN’s 20 highest rated regular season Bruins game broadcasts.
Date
Opponent
W / L
Score
Rating
1
11/23/2011
at Buffalo
W
4-3
8.4
2
12/19/2011
Montreal
W
3-2
7.7
3
12/5/2011
at Pittsburgh
W
3-1
6.9
4
3/24/2011
Montreal
W
7-0
6.6
5
11/30/2011
at Toronto
W
6-3
6.4
6
3/18/2010
Pittsburgh
L
3-0
6.2
7
12/14/2011
 at Ottawa
W
5-2
6.1
8
11/17/2011
Blue Jackets
W
2-1
6.1
9
12/6/2011
at Winnipeg
L
2-1
6.0
10
12/3/2011
Toronto
W
4-1
5.9
11
12/17/2011
at Philadelphia
W
6-0
5.8
12
12/13/2011
Los Angeles
W
3-0
5.8
13
12/8/2011
Florida
L
2-0
5.8
14
11/15/2011
New Jersey
W
4-3
5.3
15
11/7/2011
NY Islanders
W
6-2
5.2
16
3/31/2011
Toronto
L
4-3
5.0
17
3/8/2011
at Montreal
L
4-1
4.9
18
12/28/2011
at Phoenix
W
2-1
4.7
19
12/23/2011
Florida
W
8-0
4.7
20
12/10/2011
at Columbus
W
5-3
4.7

NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game moved to 3pm Saturday

From NBC Sports - 



NEW TIME- NHL WINTER CLASSIC ALUMNI GAME TELECAST TOMORROW ON VERSUS MOVED TO 3 P.M. ET
 
Fifth NHL Winter Classic Presented Live on NBC on January 2 at 1 p.m. ET
 
NEW YORK – December 30, 2011 – The 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game featuring former Philadelphia Flyers against former New York Rangers in a New Year’s Eve showdown on Dec. 31, which was scheduled to air at 1 p.m. ET, will now air live at 3 p.m. ET on VERSUS. The delayed start time decision by the NHL was based on tomorrow’s weather forecast and should make for optimal game conditions for players and fans.

The Alumni Game will showcase six members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, recent retirees and Stanley Cup winners, including Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Eric Lindros and NBC Sports’ Jeremy Roenick. NBC Sports Network guest analyst and former Rangers coach Mike Keenan, who won the Stanley Cup in 1994 while coaching the team, will lead the Rangers alumni team.

NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic begins at 1 p.m. ET on January 2. Immediately following the game at 4 p.m. ET, the NBC Sports Network (currently VERSUS) will be launched with a special NHL Live post-game show hosted by Bob Costas from Philadelphia.

This year’s Winter Classic features an intense rivalry between the top two teams in the Atlantic Division as the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers battle outdoors at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, home of the Phillies. This is the fifth iteration of the NHL Winter Classic, an event created by both NBC Sports and the NHL.

NBC’s coverage of the Winter Classic will be hosted by Costas, a 22-time Emmy Award-winner. He will be joined by NBC Sports Group studio analysts Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick for coverage on NBC and post-game coverage on NBC Sports Network. NBC’s game coverage will be led by Emmy Award-winner Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play) Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass reporter).

Last year’s Winter Classic was the most-watched NHL regular-season game in 36 years. Played between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and broadcast on New Year’s Day in primetime due to a weather delay, the game was watched by 4.5 million viewers.

Friday Three-for-All: Rockin' The New Year Country Style!

Now, here's how we rock it out, country style my friends in the final FTFA of the year! The names are Currington, Keith and Shelton!


Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NFL Today on CBS previews Week 17

From CBS Sports -


THE NFL ON CBS: WEEK 17 (SUNDAY, JAN. 1, 2012)
AUDIBLES WITH “THE NFL ON CBS’s” DAN FOUTS

The CBS Television Network continues its 52nd year broadcasting the NFL with coverage of THE NFL ON CBS on Sunday, Jan. 1 (1:00-7:00 PM, ET) beginning with THE NFL TODAY, the Network’s one-hour studio show (12:00 NOON-1:00 PM, ET), live from THE NFL TODAY studio in New York City.

THE NFL ON CBS lead announce team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms call the action from the Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos game, live from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.  Lance Barrow is the coordinating producer and lead game producer and Mike Arnold is the lead game director.

Sean McManus is Chairman, CBS Sports, and serves as Executive Producer of CBS Sports’ coverage of THE NFL ON CBS.  Harold Bryant is Executive Producer and Vice President, Production, CBS Sports.

* * * * *

DAN FOUTS
(On Baltimore-Cincinnati and playoff implications): Baltimore is undefeated at home, so obviously they’d like to win to get to play at home and get the bye.  But for motivation, getting to the playoffs, the Bengals have that.  And, playing at home is a bonus for them because Baltimore is just 3-4 on the road.  Cincinnati is a team that a lot of people haven’t given enough credit for being as good as they really are.

(Keys to Game): Baltimore has to find a way to run the ball against Cincinnati, and that is no easy chore.  On the road, if you’re throwing a lot and having incompletions, that just jacks the crowd up.  Cincinnati’s pass-rush is very good.  So in order to slow that down, Ray Rice is going to have to have a real good day.  Cincinnati has a chance with their wide receivers to do some damage here.  A.J. Green did not play in the first game against Baltimore.  Jerome Simpson got a lot of attention for his leap into the endzone last week and he had a huge game against these guys the first time.  But the guy to keep your eye on may be Jermaine Gresham more than anybody else.    

* * * * *

Following are THE NFL ON CBS assignments for Week 17 (subject to change).

WEEK 17 – January 1, 2012 – CBS DOUBLEHEADER
1:00 PM, ET starts:              
·N.Y. Jets @ Miami                 Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf                               
·Buffalo @ New England          Don Criqui/Randy Cross                                
·Tennessee @ Houston             Bill Macatee/Steve Tasker                        
·Indianapolis @ Jacksonville     Spero Dedes/Steve Beuerlein                    

4:15 PM, ET starts:
·Baltimore @ Cincinnati            Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts                                 
·San Diego @ Oakland             Marv Albert/Rich Gannon                        
·Kansas City @ Denver            Jim Nantz/Phil Simms                               
·Pittsburgh @ Cleveland           Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots                

ESPN's BCS Survival Guide

From ESPN - 



ESPN’s BCS Bowl Survival Guide
By January 1, 2012, you will have watched more than two dozen bowl games on ESPN networks, eaten more appetizers, pies and cookies than any reasonable person should, played hooky from work, ignored your household chores, and now, you’re staring down the five biggest bowls of the season: The BCS Bowls on ESPN. Have no fear; ESPN’s BCS Bowl Survival Guide is here, complete with this handy BCS lineup card.

Scenario:  Your pants and shirts are a little too snug for wearing in public, bordering on indecent and your dog no longer recognizes you; it’s time to hit the gym. But wait, won’t that interfere with watching all that great pre-game coverage from your couch?
Solution:  ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Classic  will televise more than 100 hours of BCS Bowl pre-game, game and post-game coverage January 2 thru January 10. In addition, College GameDay Built by The Home Depot or College Football Live will originate from all five BCS Bowls. Whether you’re at home or on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike, you won’t miss a beat.

Scenario:  In the holiday gifting aftermath, you discover you’ve got to return four funky fruitcakes, three tacky ties, two French hens and one hideous holiday sweater from Aunt Marge. Many long drives in traffic await you.
Solution: ESPN Radio’s BCS Bowl coverage of all five BCS Bowls will keep you company through the stoplights, rubbernecking and road rage of holiday returns season.

Scenario: Your wife not-so-subtly reminds you to take down the holiday decorations - your very own “festival of lights”- complete with 50 strands of blinking bulbs covering every inch of your roof. Yes, you were king of the neighborhood this year. But now you’re going to miss pre-game coverage for your favorite BCS Bowl game.
Solution: You won’t miss a thing. Grab a sweater, a ladder, some snacks and your cell phone – you’re going to be awhile. With ESPN Mobile, you’ll see clips, highlights and receive scores from GameCast and the WatchESPN app. She’ll never know.

Scenario: To start the new year off right, your company sends you to a full day and night seminar on work-life balance the day of your favorite BCS Bowl. Oh, the irony...
Solution: You’ve got this. Grab a conference-issued folder, insert your tablet, select WatchESPN app. Voila! You’ll see all the coverage on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU right there (on ESPN3) in that chilly conference room.

Scenario: Once back in the office, your mailbox is so full that you find yourself paralyzed to do anything about it. Instead, you daydream about LSU’s offensive schemes vs. SEC foe Alabama.
Solution: Fire up the office Internet. ESPN.com’s blogs, columns and 360-degree look at the teams and towns of the BCS Bowl games awaits you with an individual page for every bowl.

Scenario: To welcome in 2012, your significant other has “accidentally” given your casual clothes to charity (i.e. the dumpster), even that sweatshirt you love with the talking bears cartoon.
Solution: You’re in luck. The BCS apparel line is online now and available in select stores. You needed that wardrobe overhaul anyhow.

Scenario: Did we mention he or she also deep-sixed your leisure reading material?
Solution: ESPN The Magazine’sTake Two” and “Technique” articles break down the Allstate BCS National Championship matchup with additional content at ESPN Insider.

Scenario: Your return flight from (insert country) where you (insert activity) and even (insert activity) with (insert name) is delayed two days and you’re going to miss the Allstate BCS National Championship.
Solution: Relax and grab a (insert beverage of country you are visiting), ESPN International has all five BCS Bowls live in more countries than your passport has pages.

Scenario: ¿Qué? ¿Necesitas ver el juego en español con tu familia?
Solution: No problem. For the first time ever, ESPN Deportes will televise the Allstate BCS National Championship (U.S. only). Qué comience la acción!

Louisville vs. Kentucky on CBS Saturday

From CBS Sports -



CBS SPORTS’ COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCHEDULE CONTINUES ON SATURDAY, DEC. 31 WITH NO. 3-RANKED KENTUCKY VS. NO. 4-RANKED LOUISVILLE

CBS Sports’ college basketball coverage continues on Saturday, Dec. 31 with coverage of *No. 3-ranked Kentucky vs. *No. 4-ranked Louisville (12:00 Noon, ET). 

Ian Eagle and Clark Kellogg are courtside at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. with the call. Bob Dekas, CBS Sports’ coordinating producer for college basketball, produces and Suzanne Smith directs.

AT THE HALFÒ, CBS Sports’ halftime studio show, hosted by Tim Brando, along with Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, provides all the day’s news, scores and highlights live from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City. Vin DeVito produces and Linda Malino directs.

In addition, CBS Sports will stream the Kentucky-Louisville game, as well as select games from entire 2011-12 schedule college basketball schedule, live on CBSSports.com. The games are available exclusively on CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Mobile.
                                                                             
            Harold Bryant is Executive Producer and Vice President, Production, CBS Sports.

* AP Poll as of 12/25/11

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Randy Orton out six months

Looks like Randy Orton could be out up to six months with a back injury.  The injury will be furthered in a match with Wade Barrett on Smackdown Friday (taped Tuesday) where Barrett tosses Orton down a flight of stairs.

Here's the latest from our friends at 411 Wrestling. The WWE announced Orton's absence Wednesday night.

It's a big blow to not have Orton at Wrestlemania XXVIII in Miami.

"Cold War on Ice" hits NBC Sports Network

From NBC Sports -


“COLD WAR ON ICE: SUMMIT SERIES ’72” AIRS ON NBC SPORTS NETWORK DEBUT DAY ON JANUARY 2

90-minute film presented by Lexus with limited commercial interruption focuses on historic 1972 hockey series between Canadian NHL All-Stars and U.S.S.R National Team
Interviews Include: Team Canada Coach Harry Sinden; Players Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito, Rod Gilbert, Bobby Clarke, Paul Henderson; Soviet players Boris Mikhailov, Vladislov Tretiak, Alexander Yakushev
Film Produced by 51-time Emmy Award-winner Ross Greenburg
Part of NBC Sports Network’s DAY 1 Schedule
“I really thought it was going to be an all star game. We were going to have some laughs and some fun.” – Phil Esposito on the series
“I don’t know what I was thinking at all. It was an awful thing to do. It sure felt good.” – Bobby Clarke on slashing Russian Star Valeri Kharlamov, breaking his ankle.
“It’s the closest I’ve ever come to kissing a man.” – Phil Esposito on Henderson’s game-winning goal in Game 8
“COLD WAR ON ICE: SUMMIT SERIES ’72” IS AN NBC SPORTS GROUP ORIGINAL PRODUCTION
NEW YORK – December 28, 2011 – Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72 presented by Lexus, a 90-minute documentary with limited commercial interruption, will be a featured component in the launch of the NBC Sports Network as it debuts at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, the same day the channel is re-branded from VERSUS.\


Click here for a promo of Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72
http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/22825103/vp/45804134#45804134


Cold War on Ice, produced by 51-time Emmy Award-winner Ross Greenburg, chronicles the historic 27-day Summit Series in September of 1972 between a team of NHL All-Stars from Canada and the Soviet National Team during the height of the Cold War.

“It is an honor to present this unique story as the first original program on the new NBC Sports Network,” said Greenburg. “This historic confrontation between the Canadian National Team and the Soviet Union was a battle of two cultures both on and off the ice. This was a defining moment in hockey and NHL history. It is exciting to give this story the platform it deserves.”


Team Canada was composed of the National Hockey League’s greatest stars, expected to easily defeat the Soviet team. In fact, on the eve of the ‘good will’ eight-game series, the Montreal Gazette published predictions from people inside the hockey world. The great majority of those polled shared the opinion of all-star goalie Jacques Plante and New York Times Hockey writer Gerald Eskenazi, who both claimed that the NHL squad “will slaughter them in 8 straight.”

The event left its stamp on the national psyche of Canada and the entire National Hockey League. Hockey is not a sport in Canada; it is a matter of national pride, and what started as a friendly exhibition series turned into a microcosm of the Cold War. It was a dramatic confrontation that jumped the Iron Curtain to pit the east against the west, communism against capitalism, and good vs. evil.

Phil Esposito of the Boston Bruins scored past Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak just 30 seconds into Game 1 (at the Montreal Forum). Team Canada went up 2-0 five minutes later. Team Canada’s predicted rout was on as the entire nation watched.

The country’s mood would quickly change as the Soviet’s went on to completely dominate the rest of the game. They mesmerized the NHL squad with their precision playmaking, effortless skating, and intricate offensive attack, and stunned Team Canada by charging back to win Game 1, 7-3.

The Soviets were disciplined and relentless and their three third-period goals signified their superior conditioning. The NHL squad was rested, coming off a summer off-season, and they were completely outworked and dominated by the Soviets, who competed at the highest level, all year round. The pre-series predictions were thrown out the window and the war was on.

Team Canada bounced back to take Game 2 of the series, 4-1 (Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto), and led Game 3 (Winnipeg Arena) by two goals late in the third period, until the Soviets scored two late goals to end Game 3 in a 4-4 tie.

Team Canada played poorly in Game 4 in Vancouver, losing 5-3.

The crowd of 16,000 booed Team Canada off the ice in Vancouver. Feelings of frustration had turned to anger as the Canadian faithful felt that the poor play of Team Canada was both embarrassing and shameful. In response to the overwhelming negative public and media reaction, Phil Esposito called out the fans for their conduct.

“We are absolutely giving it our all and we are really disappointed in you (fans),” said Esposito, the captain of Team Canada after Game 4. “We cannot believe…were trying like hell. Canada is our home and it is just not fair. It is totally ridiculous that we are being booed.”

The series shifted to the Soviet Union for the remaining four games of the series as Team Canada contemplated the end to its perceived dominance in the sport they so dearly love, but not before a two-week European hiatus in which Team Canada played two exhibition games against the Swedish national team in Stockholm.

The second game against Sweden featured many fights. Team Canada was criticized by the Swedes for their ‘goonish’ style of play, but these two games along with Esposito’s impassioned speech, helped galvanize the NHL team. The Canadian squad was made up of players from different NHL teams, many of who hated each other, but now were coming together because of a common enemy, the Soviets.

While the final four games of the Summit Series were hosted by the Soviets, more than 3,000 Canadian fans accompanied the NHL squad. Team Canada got out to a 4-1 lead in Game 5, but the Soviets scored four unanswered goals to win that game, 5-4, and take a 3-1-1 lead in the series.

Team Canada would now have to win all three remaining games to win the series. Despite the backbreaking loss, and the apparent stranglehold they had on their game, all 3,000 fans sang “Oh Canada” as Team Canada left the ice after Game 5.

Prior to Game 6, the Canadian team became upset over a shipment of beer they believed that the Soviets had deliberately “lost” at the airport. They took any additional incentives they could get and Team Canada held on for a 3-2 win. Unheralded Paul Henderson scored what turned out to be the game-winner late in the second period. This game also featured the most controversial play of the series. Philadelphia Flyers Bobby Clarke was instructed by Team Canada’s bench to stop the high-flying Soviet star and captain, Valeri Kharlamov. During his next shift Clarke deliberately slashed Kharlomov and broke his ankle.

“He was killing us and somebody had to do it. This is war. It is us versus them and the guy was killing us.” said Clarke after the game.

Team Canada would capture Game 7, 4-3, with Paul Henderson once again scoring the game-winning tally late in the 3rd period. The game also featured a controversial rebuttal by the Soviets, as Boris Mikhailov used his skate as a weapon and kicked Team Canada’s Gary Bergman twice during an on-ice altercation.

GAME 8, WITH SERIES TIED 3-3-1
Team Canada was down by two goals heading into the third period of the decisive Game 8, and the Soviets were on the verge of laying claim to Canada’s national sport.

Team Canada however came out roaring in the third period and tied the score at 5-5 with the series tied 3-3-1.

In the final minute of play Esposito got off a good shot and Henderson, the journeyman turned hero, who later said he knew he was going to score, put the rebound past Tretiak in perhaps the single most-famous moment in Canadian sports history. The “Goal Heard Round the World” became one the countries most endearing images, one that is as fresh and vivid to the entire nation 40 years after that late September day in 1972.

In the end, the Summit Series proved that the gap between the best Canadian NHL players and the top players in Europe was much narrower than most observers on both sides realized. The success of the series led to the Super Series, where Soviet clubs played NHL clubs on numerous occasions throughout the 1970’s and eventually the immersion of many Soviet players to the National Hockey League in the 1980’s.

INTERVIEWS FOR “COLD WAR ON ICE”
Subjects include - Team Canada Coach Harry Sinden; Players Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito, Rod Gilbert, Bobby Clarke, Paul Henderson, Peter Mahovlich, JP Parise; Soviet players Boris Mikhailov, Vladislov Tretiak, Alexander Yakushev.

ON PLAYING FOR TEAM CANADA:
Clarke: “It was certainly an honor to wear the Canadian jersey, but it was also supposed to be a vacation almost. It was supposed to be a cakewalk for Canada”
Phil Esposito: “I really thought it was going to be an all star game. We were going to have some laughs and some fun.”
Henderson: “It was going to be a wonderful experience to be able to play with the Espositos, Cournoyer, Savard, Lapointe, and get to enjoy their ability and be on the same ice with them. The other side of the coin is, anyone who kept you from winning the Stanley Cup you didn’t like them, and you had to bump heads with them.”
Tony Esposito: “They were your rivals and a few of the guys you really didn’t like. We weren’t a team; we were just a bunch of guys thrown together. So when we went over there (to Russia for games four through eight), that’s when we really gelled.”

ON THE RUSSIANS STEALING THE CANADIAN’S BEER:
Phil Esposito: “They stole our beer. We had to drink vodka. Homemade vodka. You ever taste homemade vodka? Go into your garage and get turpentine and drink it. Holy cripe it is bad.”

ON BOBBY CLARKE SLASHING RUSSIAN VALERI KHARLAMOV IN GAME 6, BREAKING HIS ANKLE:
Clarke: “I don’t know what I was thinking at all. Obviously I wasn’t. I chased him down the ice and wacked him.”
Henderson: “That’s the way Clarkie played the game. Probably on that team he was the only guy that would go out there and do something like that. But he would’ve done that for the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s who he was. He wasn’t out of character. He was so competitive that he would push his grandmother down a flight of stairs to win a hockey game.”
Phil Esposito: “The only thing I regret about that is he didn’t do it in the first game. Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? That’s part of the game and I have no problem with it. None, you understand? This is war.”
Clarke: “As I said often, it was an awful thing to do. It sure felt good.”

ON PLAYING RUSSIA DURING THE COLD WAR:
Henderson: “They were challenging us as a people, and certainly as a hockey empire.”
Mahovlich: “The Cold War. The us-against-them attitude was certainly what this turned out to be.”
Phil Esposito: “I would’ve killed those son of a bitches to win. It scares me every time I think about it.”

ON HENDERSON SCORING THE GAME-WINNING GOAL IN GAME 8 GIVING TEAM CANADA THE SERIES WIN:
Parise: “We went nuts.”
Clarke: “Ecstatic, but there was also a real…whew…relief.”
CREDITS:Producers: Ross Greenburg, George Roy, Steve Stern
Director and Editor: George Roy
Writer: Steve Stern
Narrator: Peter Coyote

ESPN the Magazine's NEXT Issue Hits Newsstands

From ESPN the Magazine -



You might already know their names; you might not. But we're telling you now. The faces in this issue are the ones to watch.
Every year since 1998, The Magazine has recognized an elite group of emerging athletes to watch in the year ahead -- athletes we call NEXT.
You don't need to crunch the numbers. You don't need some experts endorsement. You just need to watch Cam Newton one Sunday afternoon. That's what NEXT does: It slaps you in the face. It makes you feel as if you've seen something you've never seen before. It leaves you wanting more. Of course, we could be wrong about the Panthers rookie and our other NEXT selections—hype is a dangerous game to play. Expectations can follow you and promises can be struck down by unseen forces, leaving you reaching for your quest for greatness. NEXT is elusive that way. It's also revelatory when you try to chase it down.
 Cover    |    Articles
NEXT Features
NBA: Season Preview
In the NBA, coaches need to manage for a marathon, not a sprint, in order to keep their players healthy and energized—through condensed schedules, back-to-back travel—if they hope to make it to the playoffs playing at their best. By Ric Bucher
NFL: The Top One Percent
Through the lens of Matt Ryan’s career, see what it takes to separate a great quarterback from the very good quarterbacks. Is it nature or nurture, practice or genius that marks the elite club of Brady, Rodgers, and Brees? By Seth Wickersham
MLB: Each Day I Get a Little Stronger About Being Weaker
Ben Petrick was drafted by the Rockies as a catcher straight out of high school, and he spent five years playing in Colorado and Detroit, but he never became the franchise player he was expected to be. Turns out, he had been playing with Parkinson’s disease, even popping meds during games. This is the story of an athlete who was once NEXT and what’s next for him now as he faces life with disability and disease. By Steve Wulf
One in a BillionAt age 14, the average boy is 5’5”. This feature tells the story of Satnam Sngh Bhamara, a 7’1” basketball prodigy from a tiny village in Punjab, India. He learned to play basketball on a makeshift hoop his father mounted on the farming shed, before training at the Ludhiana Sports Academy and being “discovered” at age 13. By Mark Winegardner
The $300,000 CrapshootAthletes say they’re born to compete. But racehorses are made. A look at the life and story of Struck It Lucky. By Tim Struby

NFL on FOX previews Week 17

From FOX Sports -


NFL on FOX Rings in 2012 With Week 17 Battles for Playoff Position

Johnson’s Biggest Disappointments of the 2011Season & Aikman Interviews Brees Before Showdown with Panthers on FOX NFL SUNDAY at 12:00 PM ET  

RECORD-SETTING BREES AND ROOKIE SENSATION NEWTON HEADLINE WEEK 17 ACTION
On Sunday, Jan. 1 FOX Sports rings in the New Year by closing out the NFL regular season with doubleheader coverage of seven NFC matchups – each presented in true HD. A battle of high-flying QBs takes place in the Bayou as all-time single-season passing record-holder Drew Brees and the Saints look to better the aerial and ground show of Cam Newton and the Panthers. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver call all the action from New Orleans. In Philadelphia, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and the Eagles try to close out their season on a strong note as they host NFC East rival Washington. A pair of playoff participants from the NFC North square-off as Matthew Stafford and the Lions head to Green Bay to battle Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.  Meanwhile the Vikings host the Bears and the 49ers travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams.  FOX Sports concludes its doubleheader and regular season coverage in Atlanta as Matt Ryan and the playoff-bound Falcons welcome the Bucs to the Georgia Dome. Also at 4:15 PM ET, the Seahawks and Cardinals meet in Arizona.

Coverage begins at 12:00 PM ET with America’s most-watched Sunday afternoon pregame show, FOX NFL SUNDAY. Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee co-host the Emmy Award-winning program and are joined by analysts Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson.  NFL Insider Jay Glazer presents the latest league news and scoops from the FOX NFL SUNDAY studio while comedic prognosticator Frank Caliendo contributes his weekly “Frank’s Picks” segment.

This Sunday, Aikman catches up with Brees on the field prior to the Saints showdown with the Panthers that helps determine playoff position for New Orleans.  Also, Johnson goes through the 2011 season and lists his biggest disappointments.  The Cowboys and Giants talk about their mindset as the two teams prepare for their “win and get in” showdown for the NFC East crown.  

For instant updates during the week and games from the entire NFL on FOX crew, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NFLONFOX. Follow the NFL on FOX on-air personalities @Buck @Jay_Glazer, @JimmyJohnson, @CurtMenefee, @MikePereira, @MichaelStrahan, @TroyAikman, @KennyAlbert, @CoachBillick, @TimBrewster, @CFD22 (Charles Davis), @DarylJohnston, @The_ChrisMyers, @LauraOkmin, @ChadPennington, @TimRyan99 & @TonySiragusa on Twitter as they provide insight and analysis all weekend. Fans can gain more access to exclusive FOX Sports content by logging on to www.facebook.com/foxsports.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints - 1pm 59% of nation                 
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman & Pam Oliver
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
MARKETS INCLUDE: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Dayton, Denver, Greensboro, Greenville, Hartford, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Tulsa, West Palm Beach

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles - 1pm 9% of nation          
Ron Pitts, Charles Davis & Drea Avent
Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA
MARKETS INCLUDE: Baltimore, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Richmond, Washington

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers  - 1pm 7% of nation                            
Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick & Laura Okmin
Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI
MARKETS INCLUDE: Detroit, Fort Myers, Milwaukee

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings - 1pm 7% of nation                           
Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston  & on-field analyst Tony Siragusa
Mall of America Field – Minneapolis, MN
MARKETS INCLUDE: Chicago, Minneapolis

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams - 1pm 11% of nation                      
Chris Myers, Tim Ryan & Jennifer Hale
Edward Jones Dome– St. Louis, MO
MARKETS INCLUDE: Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle

Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons - 4:15pm 89% of nation                            
Dick Stockton, John Lynch & Jamie Maggio
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA
MARKETS INCLUDE: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Dayton, Detroit, Fort Myers, Greensboro, Greenville, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh, Richmond, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, Tampa, Tulsa, Washington, West Palm Beach

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals - 4:15pm 4% of nation                      
Sam Rosen, Chad Pennington & Jody Jackson
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ
MARKETS INCLUDE: Phoenix, Portland, Seattle

STRAHAN: GIANTS’ RUNNING GAME IS CATALYST FOR TEAM – Following the New York Giants victory this past Saturday over the New York Jets, FOX NFL SUNDAY analyst Michael Strahan is convinced his former team needs its running game to set the tone for the rest of the team.  “That game showed the Giants need to let their running game set the tempo for the team,” said Strahan.  “Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were very physical.  Their defense then picked it up in the second half unlike they’ve done all season.”

BILLICK: YOU CAN’T PLAY THE GAME AFRAID OF GETTING HURT – On this week’s Coach Speak, NFL on FOX analyst Brian Billick weighed in on Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson’s knee injury in what some called a meaningless game for the 3-12 Vikings.  Billick said other teams who have locked up playoff positioning will be faced with a similar decision this week on whether or not to play their star players.  “You can’t play the game afraid,” said Billick. “You have to stay in a rhythm, you have to go out and play 100 percent every time.  Every time you take someone off the field, you double or triple the reps for someone else and therefore, give them a higher propensity for possibly getting hurt.  Although it’s regrettable that Adrian Peterson got hurt, I don’t second guess the fact that he was playing.  That’s not the nature of this game.  When you play, you’ve got to play.  You can’t play being afraid to get hurt.”

To hear Billick’s full analysis, click here for this week’s Coach Speak: http://tinyurl.com/cfjoass