Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for January 17, 2011 from Len Berman at ThatsSports.com.
1. Quick Hits
* Chicago will host Green Bay for the NFC Championship next Sunday at 3:00 PM Eastern.
* It's Pittsburgh hosting the Jets for the AFC title next Sunday at 6:30 PM Eastern. The winners head to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas February 6th.
* The first tennis Grand Slam of the year is underway, the Australian Open. Roger Federer and Andy Roddick posted easy first round wins.
They lead the league in yapping, and now they have a chance to just lead the league after playing a near perfect game in Foxboro. No turnovers, just 3 penalties. In back to back weeks the Jets beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road. And while Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is making some big-time throws after sluggish starts, the Jets defense is running the show. And now they go up against an equally tough defense in Pittsburgh. Say what you want about the Jets and their mouthiness, but Rex Ryan was right when he said last night "same old Jets." They're the only team in the NFL that has made it to back to back conference championship games. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is, and not your foot in your mouth, so to speak.
3. What's His Name
Are the Green Bay Packers now the team to beat? Are they heading to their first Super Bowl since you know who was their quarterback? Is Aaron Rodgers destined to be this year's Super Bowl MVP? Because of Rogers, what's his name was deemed expendable and that's why he went to the Jets and, ahem, made such a name for himself. And you thought you had heard the last of him?
4. Grand Slam
If Rafael Nadal wins the Australian Open, he would hold all 4 Major tennis titles at the same time. He closed out 2010 winning the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. Even the great Rod Laver pointed out it would not be a true Grand Slam, since he didn't win all 4 Major titles in the same calendar year. Laver did it twice in his career, and the stadium in Melbourne where they play the Aussie Open is named after him. So if Nadal wins Down Under he would win the "Rafa Slam," much the way Tiger Woods won the "Tiger Slam." It's hard to believe that Woods did it a full decade ago bridging 2000 and 2001. It was thought if anyone would win a true Grand Slam it would be him. I have a hunch Rafa will beat him to the punch.
5. MLK Day
I'm guessing for some kids, today's holiday just means no school and NBA games. For me, when I think of Martin Luther King, Jr., I always think of Jackie Robinson. Both civil rights leaders in their own way. When it comes to sports, I'm sure young people take civil rights for granted. So today might be a good time to remind them there was a time when sports was lily white. When Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb were baseball heroes, they were performing in a segregated league. Young blacks had dreams too, but they had to fulfill them in the Negro Leagues. Sports has come a long way, in fact in many respects sports has led the way. I'm reminded again today of the line, "Babe Ruth changed baseball, Jackie Robinson changed America." As did Martin Luther King, Jr. Quite a legacy.
Happy Birthday: The Greatest. Muhammad Ali. 69.
Bonus Birthday: The First Lady, Michelle Obama. 47.
Today in Sports: The 1933 National League MVP, Giants screwball pitcher Carl Hubbell, is rewarded with an $18,000 contract. 1934.
Bonus Event: By comparison, NBA badboy Dennis Rodman is fined $25,000 for kicking a cameraman. 1997.
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