09/20/2012 10:41 am ET Updated Nov 20, 2012

Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Thursday everyone, here's my Top 5 for September 20, 2012 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams underwent surgery yesterday for a tumor in his right kidney. He may need further surgery for a tumor in his left kidney.
  • Carolina hosts the Giants in Thursday night football.
  • The PGA Tour Championship begins today in Atlanta.
  • Good guy Freddy Couples is elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
  • Not news. The NHL cancels September preseason games.
  • Uh oh, the Pittsburgh Pirates drop back to .500.

2. Ban the Knee

None other than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggests that "taking a knee" should be outlawed from the game. He calls it "a wasted play." (Others have said the same about kicking an extra point). Jones suggests that instead of kneeling down, teams should have to run plays or get penalized. Somewhere Herm Edwards is smiling and maybe Joe Pisarcik too. If they had Jerry's rule in 1978 then the "Miracle in the Meadowlands" might have been just another late game fumble.

3. Black and Blue

When Baltimore hosts Cleveland next Thursday night, the Ravens may set some kind of dubious record. They opened their season on a Monday night, so next week's game is their fourth in 17 days. When I was a kid, I was struck by NFL players who said how they could hardly walk after a game and when they finally felt better, it was time to play another game the following Sunday. I can only imagine how some of the Ravens will feel next Friday. If the brutal schedule takes a toll on the players down the road, perhaps owners will think twice about the impact of weekday games. Sure it helps the pocket book, but at what price?

4. Power Rankings

So when did they start with this NFL power ranking stuff? Now every week, a panel of experts ranks the teams one through 32. And what's the point exactly? We have a playoff system in the NFL to choose the best teams, why do we need this poll exactly? Do fans in San Francisco go around this week shouting "We're #1 in the power rankings?" Do Jacksonville fans hang their heads over being ranked last? New Orleans is 0-2 this season, but they're ranked ahead of five teams that are 1-1. That's why we have standings. I think. But in this age over "overstatification" I'm not sure. I'm still trying to figure out what WHIP means in baseball.

5. Tough Times

Anyone need a big furry guy? Stanley C. Panther is looking for work. The Florida Panther mascot has been shown the door in the wake of the NHL lockout. He's been the team's mascot since the beginning in 1993. Here's his highlight reel. And here's his resume if you need someone who performs well on cold slippery surfaces.

Happy Birthday: Montreal Canadiens great Guy Lafleur. 61.

Bonus Birthday: Actress Sophia Loren. 78.

Today in Sports: Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. (Featured in my New York Time best seller The Greatest Moments in Sports.) 1973.

Bonus Event: And for the 2633rd game, he rested. Cal Ripken's consecutive games played streak ends after 17 years and 2632 games. 1998.

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