09/06/2012 10:40 am ET Updated Nov 06, 2012

Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for September 6, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 24-17 in the NFL season opener.
  • According to Forbes, the Cowboys are the most valuable NFL team at $2.1 billion, the first to top $2 billion.
  • A study of former NFL players finds the death rate from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease was about three times the general population.
  • Andy Roddick heads into retirement after losing in four sets in the quarterfinals to Juan Martin del Potro. Roger Federer was beaten by Tomas Berdych in four sets. Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams make the semis as well.
  • Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called this season "miserable" and took offense when a radio host suggested he's "checked out" on the season.
  • Former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell is dead at 87.

2. Opening Night

So maybe those preseason Super Bowl odds were right after all. Dallas came into New Jersey and beat the champs. Despite all their penalties that's a good win for the Cowboys. For the Giants, plenty to work on. Still no ground game, and their defense couldn't stop anyone when it counted. Perhaps the best news is that the replacement officials didn't screw things up... yet.

3. Timing is Everything

It wasn't all Andy Roddick's fault. He won the 2003 U.S. Open and hasn't won a major since. It's easy to understand. Federer. Nadal. Djokovic. Much like being the third best American in the McEnroe-Connors heyday. That dubious honor went to Vitas Gerulaitis. The third or fourth best player in virtually every other sport is a dominant star. Not in tennis. The pyramid gets awfully small at the top. So, hats off to Roddick. He carried the mantle of the great American tennis hope well. Wishing him the best in retirement. And hoping it's not another nine years before the next Roddick comes along.

4. Wrong Number

Kids all over the Denver area are proudly wearing their #18 Peyton Manning jerseys to school. Not so fast In Greeley Colorado. Eighteen is one of six numbers that are banned because they have gang ties. There's a group known as the 18th Street Gang. When a third grader was told to deep-six his #18 his mom responded, "I'm pretty upset the schools have come down to this and I think they need to start paying attention to the education the children are getting rather than what they're wearing."

5. Who Knew?

Amaze your friends and relatives with my NFL trivia. If you missed it on the Today Show yesterday with Hoda and Kathie Lee, here it is. And yes you have to sit through a commercial, but I promise it's worth it.

Happy Birthday: NBA champ with the 2003 San Antonio Spurs, Kevin Willis. 50.

Bonus Birthday: Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge. 29.

Today in Sports: Cal Ripken, Jr. plays in his 2,131st straight game breaking Lou Gehrig's record. 1995.

Bonus Event: Make up your find. They change the name of Leningrad, Russia back to St. Petersburg. 1991.

Note: Spanning the World airs on NBC's Today Show tomorrow morning at 8:50 a.m. And nobody got hurt!

I'm happy to report my newest book for young readers, The Greatest Moments in Sports: Upsets and Underdogs, is now in stock.

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