01/27/2012 10:37 am ET Updated Mar 28, 2012

Top 5 Sports Stories

TGIF everyone here's my Top 5 for January 27, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • At Joe Paterno's memorial service, Nike chairman Phil Knight said "If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno." The crowd exploded in cheers (1:30 mark).
  • Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray 7-5 in the fifth set and will now face Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.
  • In a surprising move, Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano gets the Tampa Bay Bucs job.
  • Rob Gronkowski sat out Patriots practice with his bad ankle. His status will be a factor in the Super Bowl.
  • It's six months until the 2012 Olympics in London.
  • It's the NHL All Star break in Ottawa. Two random teams of players, chosen by a draft, will play each other on Sunday.

2. Rivalries

Is Nadal/Federer the best rivalry in sports today? In an exquisite match, Nadal beat Federer for the 18th time in their 27 meetings. But this rivalry is different. Normally rivals don't like each other: Yankees/Red Sox, Ali/Frazier, Celtics Lakers, Obama/Republicans. But not these guys. They're actually friends. OK, there was a slight blip when Nadal said that Federer doesn't fight enough for player rights. But that seems mild when you compare it with some of the mud fights we've seen from the other hated rivals. And maybe we can take a lesson from these two. You can be great, you can compete and you can get along. Imagine if they actually did that in politics?

3. Sound Off!

Get your earplugs, Maria Sharapova will be battling Victoria Azarenka in the Australian Open final. Or as Top 5 subscriber R.E. writes, "I'll be watching with the sound off." The two women are the top noisemakers in the game. They've had six shriek-fests in their career, with each winning three. Check out this point last year in Miami, where the crowd actually starts laughing at the racket, so to speak. The winner of their match will be #1 in the world. Now that's something to yell about.

4. Friday eMailbag

When a tennis player objected to being drilled by his opponent I asked, "When did sports become so dainty?" Top 5 subscriber C.M. answered, "When NASCAR got more airtime than other sports, the NFL introduced wussy rules, and soccer players started flopping every other minute. They've been dainty for some time."

When I mentioned the long shot of the same family winning an Oscar (Rooney Mara) and a Super Bowl (Giants) the same year, J.L. Tweeted @LenBermanSports "SteveTisch (Giants owner) is the only person to have ever won both an Oscar and a Super Bowl ring." Steve was one of the producers of Forrest Gump.

In regards to David Einhorn, who nearly bought into the Mets, being fined $11.2 million in England for insider trading, T.G. writes. "David Einhorn is a friend and client of mine. $11.2M is 'coat check' money for these guys."

As for the Astros changing their name when they move to the American League in 2013, J.S. suggests, "the Houston Wehaveaproblems."
But R. T. writes, "I think it would be a shame if Houston renamed the Astros. Our space program gets very little notoriety except at launch time and with the end of the shuttle program, it will get even less. At least the team name will remind everyone of the brave 'servicemen and servicewomen' in the Astronaut ranks!"

5. Spanning the World

This week's Spanning the World highlight comes from the Australian Open. It's the best ballboy catch you'll ever see!
Spanning the World airs monthly on NBC's Today Show. Next up: Thursday February 23rd in the 8:30am half hour.

Happy Birthday: Former NFL wide receiver Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, one of the first end zone celebrants. 60.
Bonus Birthday: Actress Mimi Rogers, the first Mrs. Tom Cruise. 56.

Today in Sports: Be kind to any friends you have in Buffalo. "Wide Right!" The Giants beat Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV. 1991.
Bonus Event: Steve Jobs introduces the iPad. 2010.

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