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Turner speaks, the Chargers deliver

Michael Silver
Yahoo Sports

INDIANAPOLIS – He got choked up during his Saturday night speech, punctuating some of his more passionate statements with fist-pumps, and the San Diego Chargers felt inspired by their head coach's emotion. "I believe in you," he told them, and they believed him, and it meant something more than they had dreamt it could have back in the uncertain days of autumn.

This was a different Norv Turner than the man some of them doubted earlier this season, a driven leader who strode confidently and defiantly into the den of the defending champions intent on irrevocably changing the way he and his team are perceived. He shed the dead-fish exterior and took command of the sidelines, railing at officials and at one point venturing a good 10 yards onto the playing field to throw a replay-challenge flag. He looked like he would fight somebody – a ref, a row of fans, Peyton Manning, whomever – to get what he wanted.

Through it all, Turner kept his poise. There were smart calls at ideal times as he got into one of those sublime play-calling rhythms which made him such a hot coaching prospect in the first place. And for the first time as a head coach in a truly big game, he walked off a winner, his face showing no trace of surprise.

Meanwhile, virtually everyone else looked at the final score – Chargers 28, Indianapolis Colts 24 – and wondered if the football world had spun off its axis. San Diego, a team known for playoff flameouts, had just taken out the one team thought to have a realistic shot at stopping the New England Patriots' merciless assault on an undefeated season. Instead, it'll be the Chargers who show up at Gillette Stadium next Sunday to play Tom Brady and the Pats for the AFC championship, while Manning sits home and digests a can't-win-the-big-one flashback to which Turner unfortunately can relate.

Throw in the game's surreal circumstances, and what Turner's team accomplished was nothing short of stunning. Playing most of the second half without his superstar halfback and starting quarterback, seemingly shafted by the officials on a couple of key occasions, and stuck on the short end of what would be a 402-yard passing day from Manning, Turner was the hero in the headset.

"The adversity this year, starting out 1-3 and putting ourselves in a hole, it was a tough road," Chargers owner Dean Spanos said after the game. "And I give Norv all the credit. He stayed the course and pulled us out of it."

Turner, he of the 59-83-1 coaching record in prior stints with the Redskins and Raiders, joined the Chargers at a fractious time, with ultra-emotional coach Marty Schottenheimer having been fired by Spanos last February after losing a power struggle with general manager A.J. Smith. That the top-seeded Chargers, who'd gone a league-best 14-2 in the '06 regular season, had flailed down the stretch of a 24-21 divisional round playoff defeat to the Pats cemented the franchise's reputation as front-running underachievers – something Turner alluded to when he spoke to his players at their suburban Indy hotel the night before the game.

The new coach had his share of critics when he got the job, and the bashing intensified when he dropped three of his first four games, including a 38-14 thrashing by the Patriots in Week 2. To be fair, I have been a longtime member of this not-so-secret society, not because of anything personal I have against Turner, but largely because of what I've been told about him by various players and coaches I respect.

And, to be even more fair, some of those people who felt Turner was miscast as a head coach were current Chargers players. In mid-November, San Diego was 5-5 and seemed to be treading water, and Smith, a shrewd talent evaluator with an authoritarian streak, looked like he'd blown it by putting Turner in charge.

The coach, however, stuck to his message: Last year, you were the best team in October and November, he told his players, and look where it got you. The challenge this year is to be the best team in December and January.

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego's All-Pro halfback and unquestioned leader, helped get his teammates on board with a heartfelt speech. The Chargers promptly began a winning streak that on Sunday reached eight games, and as the victories mounted, the coach's credibility increased internally.

On Saturday night, at long last, Turner found his voice. He spoke of the team's journey, reminding the players of the season's rough beginning and how many times they'd been counted out. "Once again, we're at that crossroads," he told them. "People want to see Brady vs. Manning. Let's be honest. No one gives us a shot in this game."

He talked about the way the Chargers were perceived by outsiders – as a talented team that couldn't dig down deep and, say, pull out a big game as road underdogs.

"I don't know where that comes from, but that's not true," he said emphatically. The room grew silent as Turner continued, "I believe in you. I believe in this team."

Then, tapping his chest for emphasis: "I feel it right here."

"You could see him tearing up," Tomlinson recalled Sunday. "We all felt it because we knew it was coming from the heart. And when he tapped his chest …"

Wait a minute – that was a page straight out of the Schottenheimer playbook.

"Yep," Tomlinson said, smiling. "It sure was."

The Chargers could have been blown out of the Dome on Sunday, as so many other teams had before them, but they kept finding a way to silence the roar of 56,950 fans by drawing on the deep, talented roster Smith has assembled.

The Colts were up 7-0 and driving late in the first quarter when future Hall of Fame wideout Marvin Harrison, in his return after missing the regular season's final 10 games with a severely bruised left knee, made his first catch on a crossing route at the San Diego 23-yard line and fought for extra yardage. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, a Pro Bowl selection despite spending the first half of the season as a non-starter, forced a fumble that safety Marlon McCree recovered – the first of three valiant takeaways by the Chargers, who led the league in that department this season – and the game settled down into a back-and-forth affair.

Three gorgeous touchdown passes by quarterback Philip Rivers (14 of 19, 264 yards) gave San Diego a 21-17 lead, the last coming on a short screen that 5-foot-6 scatback Darren Sproles turned into a 56-yard breakaway down the left sideline to close the third quarter. But Rivers tweaked his right knee while backpedaling on the delivery, forcing him to the sidelines, where (gasp!) Tomlinson had been relegated since twisting his left knee in the second quarter, on the Chargers' first touchdown drive.

So it was that with 10:07 left in the game and Indy having just gone ahead by three on Manning's 55-yard touchdown pass to rookie wideout Anthony Gonzalez, Turner's offense took the field with backup quarterback Billy Volek manning the controls.

Armed with a slew of Smith-acquired skill players, including backup halfback Michael (No Relation) Turner, and the cool wisdom of a confident coach who pushed the right buttons at the perfect time, Volek marched the team 78 yards in eight plays, scoring on a one-yard sneak with 4:50 remaining to put the Chargers ahead. A pair of fourth-down stops, thwarted respectively thanks to killer rushes by bookend outside linebackers Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips, doused Indy's comeback hopes.

The Colts, commonly depicted as having flown under the radar while the Patriots were completing an unprecedented 16-0 regular season, officially had crash-landed.

Now Volek was taking a knee, and the Chargers were skipping off the field and into the locker room, where Turner gave the backup quarterback a game ball and told his players he was proud of them and marched into an interview room with a new bounce in his step.

"We've got some guys who compete and fight and scratch and claw as good as I've ever been around," Turner said. "I told them in the locker room I've been doing this a long time … and I've never been around a more gutsy performance by a team. And the adversity, the things that happened during the game, the injuries, our guys never backed down.

"It's one I'll remember in terms of individuals stepping up and doing the things you talk about and competing. That's a special game."

No matter what happens in New England next Sunday, this victory over the Colts was a game that Turner never will forget.

When we look at him now, we see a different man.

His players saw it first.

"We're going to New England," Tomlinson said.

At long last, they know who'll lead them.

I'M HOT CAUSE I'M FLY …

Remember when New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan was contemplating retirement while sitting out training camp, and everyone suspected it was a ruse designed to get the team to sweeten his $4 million salary for 2007? Well, guess what? It turns out Strahan, 36, is underpaid by NFL standards. Not only is he one of the greatest defensive linemen in history, but he also is one of the best players still in the playoffs. The Giants have some other elite pass rushers, as we saw in their 21-17 upset of the Dallas Cowboys, but the presence of Strahan makes them truly fearsome. For those of you with good memories: If Strahan takes down Brett Favre on Sunday, no one will accuse the Green Bay Packers quarterback of faking it this time.

Speaking of fear, I don't see a whole lot of defenders who are particularly enthusiastic about trying to tackle Giants halfback Brandon Jacobs right now. When Jacobs scored that game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter and hurled the football at the play clock behind the end zone, I think the play clock soiled itself. One other bit of weirdness: It turns out the Giants, struggling to find a replacement for retired All-Pro Tiki Barber, had so many good running backs in camp that they could afford to trade Ryan Grant to Green Bay (for an undisclosed future draft pick) shortly before the start of the season. That's the same Ryan Grant who revived the Packers' running game at midseason and ran for a franchise-record 201 yards in Saturday's 42-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

I guess Tom Coughlin is going to get that contract extension after all. Wow. If any team can go into Lambeau Field and stun the Packers, it's Coughlin's Giants, who are 9-1 on the road in '07. But Favre is going to be very, very difficult to stop in his personal cathedral. The scene that played out Saturday was truly transcendent. Trailing behind Favre as he trotted off the field, then stopped near the end-zone tunnel to hug his wife, Deanna, and daughters Brittany and Breleigh, I saw a level of abject adoration that bordered on the religious. Unless you were there to experience it, the description sounds hopelessly hokey, but the man seems to be tapped into something mystical right now, and his fans are feeling it in a big way. Favre's teammates are, too, especially after watching him complete that stumbling scoop pass to tight end Donald Lee. "I don't even know what to say about him, man," cornerback Al Harris said after Saturday's game. "The dude is like ancient, but he gets it done. I was telling (second-year linebacker) A.J. Hawk on the sidelines, 'Man, he does everything they teach you not to do, but he makes it work.' I'm his biggest fan."

Then there is that other quarterback, the dude in New England who threw 50 touchdown passes in the regular season and followed up his first MVP award by completing 26 of 28 passes in the Patriots' 31-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night. This just in: Tom Brady is the best football player on earth, and he seems to be getting better. Brady's only misfires came on a play on which intended target Benjamin Watson seemed to be interfered with and on a blatant Wes Welker drop. For all we know, he successfully snuck in a trip to Mexico the week before the game without anyone detecting him. He's that good. The "blueprint" for beating the Patriots? Praying that he oversleeps.

In addition to being a mentor, friend and Sports Illustrated colleague for 13 years (until my move to Yahoo! Sports last July), Peter King always has been the first person with whom I discuss potential NFL playoff assignments. So when the Sultan of Starbucks suggested I join him in a Green Bay/Indy doubleheader for the divisional round, I wasn't a very difficult sell. I could complain about a few elements of the trip – having to endure his rabid popularity among Packer backers, from a divine DePere, Wis., pub to the Lambeau parking lot; the fact that he rented a Kia for the three-plus hour drive late Saturday night from Lambeau to the O'Hare Airport Hilton, the first hour through an intense snowstorm; his dubious decision to purchase three bear claws from a mini-mart after midnight – but we basically had a blast. And though I hadn't planned on it, if I make it through this all-night writing session to which he and few others can relate, it looks like I'll be following him back to Green Bay for more Spotted Cow ales, photo ops and good times. But this time, could somebody please pretend to recognize me?

… YOU AIN'T CAUSE YOU'RE NOT

So there I was in the RCA Dome press box Sunday, watching Peyton Manning complete his first 14 passes in guiding the Colts to a 10-7 halftime lead, and I'm thinking, "Is the NFL the most blessed entity on earth, or what?" Transcendent games from Favre and Brady already in the books, the former in a majestic, snow-laden setting that was truly memorable. Surely, Manning and Tony Romo would follow suit, meaning the best four teams with the world's foremost quartet of marquee signal-callers would go rolling into a perfectly positioned championship weekend. And then, suddenly, came successive reminders that this sport which features an oblong ball habitually serves up funny bounces when we least expect them. So yeah, we'll watch Manning line up behind center next weekend, but it'll be Eli, and the man trying to outduel Brady to keep the Patriots from becoming the first-ever team to go 18-0 could be the virtually anonymous Volek. It's not what commissioner Roger Goodell or his network partners would have scripted, but you know millions and millions will watch anyway, with the promise of more unexpected twists to come.

Who took the biggest hit Sunday? Not Peyton Manning or Tony Dungy, who validated their greatness last year with a Super Bowl victory. Not the city of Indianapolis, which might lose Dungy (should he decide to retire) but will get a sparkling new stadium next season with a team that still could contend for years to come. Not even Romo, who'll have more shots at postseason redemption, or even Jessica Simpson, who'll be Yoko-ized but will retain her considerable skills as an actress and singer. (OK, maybe Simpson was the big loser, but indulge me for a moment.) No, the person whose stock took the biggest plunge may have been Dallas offensive line coach Tony Sparano, the reputed frontrunner to be hired by ex-boss Bill Parcells for the Miami Dolphins' head coaching position. After watching Sparano's unit get utterly overwhelmed by the Giants on Sunday, might Parcells be less inclined to enlist his services? It shouldn't work that way, but the NFL is a strange business.

As with Dungy, there is speculation that Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren may have coached his final game this past weekend. I couldn't be positive, but as he stood there in the driving snow, looking wet and miserable on the sideline as his former team shredded his vaunted defense, Holmgren seemed ready to say "peace out" right then and there. I know it probably wouldn't have mattered, yet on fourth-and-1 from his own 39-yard line with 12:34 remaining and Seattle down 42-20, Holmgren inconceivably sent on the punting unit. Holmgren's a very good coach, but that's just nuts.

The last time I mentioned Ellis Hobbs in this space, the Patriots cornerback was implying that God had punished Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith for having the gall to guarantee a victory. Now Hobbs has caught my eye once again, this time reacting to media criticism of his play by reasoning, "I don't tell you how to do (your job), so you shouldn't tell me how to do mine." Uh, Ellis, I think you just did tell me how to do my job. Thanks, I'll take it under advisement.

The NFL is great on TV, but attending games in person allows you to experience such nuances as the flight of a bald eagle, Challenger, through the RCA Dome at the climax of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Before the anthem began, the fans were treated to a lengthy explanation from the P.A. announcer about Challenger's rescue as a young bird and subsequent exposure to people. The result, said the announcer, is that the eagle "now thinks he is a human." Whoa, trippy concept. Has Challenger noticed, for example, that he is the only "human" who can, you know, flap his wings and fly? Does he date British women? And, if so, have he and one of his birds been to the cinema to see Matthew Modine play his psychic opposite in the 1984 film "Birdy"? Or, as colleague Dan Wetzel muses, is Challenger the ultimate wing man? Does he wear short-shorts and rag on Danny Ainge for not playing defense? Just wondering.

TWO THINGS I CAN'T COMPREHEND

1. How CNN can pay political analyst Amy Holmes to smirk insufferably while delivering shallow points, dismissively talk over anyone who questions her and launch an all-out assault on logic.

2. What Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and his team of advisers are thinking. On Sunday, the Falcons hired Patriots director of college scouting Tom Dimitroff, and according to a report on profootballtalk.com, Blank made the decision despite the fact that he and the rest of his nine-person hiring committee never interviewed Dimitroff in person. I like Blank and think he'll eventually be one of the league's better owners, but that's just crazy. I'm also having a hard time figuring out why the Falcons would go after Dimitroff without even bothering to make a run at his highly respected boss, Scott Pioli, who is Bill Belichick's right-hand man. Because Pioli does not have final say over personnel, the Patriots technically can't block him from seeking a GM gig. Shouldn't he be one of the first prospective candidates Blank or any other owner would call?

OVER-THE-TOP, EPHEDRINE-LACED DIATRIBE AT 4:19 A.M.

"Hi, I'm an LSU fan, and my team is about to win an improbable BCS national championship despite having suffered a pair of regular-season losses. The final seconds are ticking down, and we are glorious, victorious … hey, I know, let's start a chant: 'SEC. SEC.' " To which I say … What? Your conference pride is so pronounced that, at that indelible moment, your first thought is to tell Ohio State fans and the whole world that the best team in the Big Ten isn't as good as the best team in the Southeastern Conference? Really? Is this a Civil War residue thing, or are you actually sitting there at the Superdome thinking, "Boy, I want to share my happiness with Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Arkansas. Pig sooeeeey." I can only relate this to my experience as a proud Cal alum – and, granted, my fellow Golden Bears and I are a little out of practice when it comes to celebrating football championships – but if and when we finally score that long-awaited Rose Bowl victory, sharing the moment with the Washington State Cougars and Oregon State Beavers will be the furthest thing from my mind. Oh, and by the way, did y'all happen to see Michigan defeat Florida in the Capital One Bowl? That's the same Wolverines team that lost to Appalachian State, and I don't even know what conference those guys are from, you dig?

TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)

"It was really refreshing to read an intelligent article that was thought out versus some of the ridiculously overblown media hype that has been circulating … in regards to Tony Romo and 'The Girlfriend.' The reference to the meal with his parents before the Green Bay game solidified the reason I believe in Romo. He knows, and soon the rest of the world will as well. Tony Romo is the real deal! He has that gleam in his eye and that confidence in his voice that all leaders do. … As far as all the haters out there who constantly badger you, they can't handle the truth you write about their teams. Thanks for setting the record straight."

Zane Garrett
Austin, Texas

Thank you – and should I ever write something less than glowing about the Cowboys (and I have a feeling I may be doing so in the very near future), kindly remember those words.


"Afternoon Mr. Silver, or should I say Mr. Plata … (For the translation of your last name to Spanish, also used to refer to money). I'll stick to Plata for all the effortless earnings I've been making on my weekly pools, thanks to insight provided by your great columns. Being a huge football and Niners fan from Mexico City, I can confirm you the following: a) Most of the 'morans' that diss you for knowing spelling and grammar should buy a dictionary. Having English as my second language, I'm offended by their analphabetic ways. b) You should have someone from Yahoo! Mexico translate your column; it's hard to come by good columns around here. (Need volunteers?) c) Excelente, in Spanish, only has one "l" … Sorry dude."

Adrian Cameras
Mexico City

Muy malo, Plata. Muchas gracias, Adrian.


"First of all, I want to tell you I love your columns. I have always been a huge fan of college football, but not so much of the NFL (don't have the time to spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching football), but your columns keep me informed enough to know what is going on. Also, I love your smart@** writing style. It's very entertaining, especially the comments from fans you have outraged by daring to state your negative opinion of their 'great' team or favorite player. People take your comments so freaking personal and it is hilarious! It all keeps me coming back week after week. But … the reason I am writing this particular week is in response to your column about Romo/Simpson. Although you are somewhat jumping on the bandwagon by writing about this hot topic, at least you have the decency to tell us that all the hype is a bunch of media-driven crap. I appreciate you telling us like it is."

Reecie
Gulf Shores, Ala.

Thanks, but you're mistaken. I don't jump on the bandwagon. I am the bandwagon.


"I questioned Romo's judgment when he decided to frolic in the sun with his babe-du-jour during the bye week preceding the most important game in his life … But, then again, I also question your judgment when you refer to Jessica Simpson as an 'actress,' so what the hell do I know?"

Adam
Toronto

Well played, sir.


"Thanks for writing this, and bringing everyone back to reality. I got so damn tired of even ESPN questioning whether … Romo (was) focused going into this week's game. They're just making a big deal of it because Jessica is really hot and a superstar. Real sports fans probably don't care who the hell he's dating; we just want him to win. ESPN really let me down on (its) reporting on this. What idiots."

Michael
Location unknown

How dare you call the good people at ESPN idiots – that's my job.


"No question; just a remark that Romo is as overrated as (Joe) Montana was; he's not even handsome! He is a loser, evident by his fumbled snap last year. (Women) like Paris (Hilton) or Jessica (Simpson) will always try for the footballers. Remember (Joe) Namath and Rachel Welch? Same for (Tom) Brady. If you rush Big Ben Davidson or Mean Joe Green at these (expletives) … There is no reason to believe he will ever win a playoff (game) as there was no expectation Montana would do so. If it weren't for (Dwight) Clark, (John) Taylor, (Jerry) Rice and the men up front Montana was another Notre Dame shmuck."

George Patrick Suntum
Palm City, Fla.

You're the worst emailer of the year. Seriously. Joe Montana was the greatest quarterback of all time. And for my money, Raquel Welch is still hot.


"Re: the lyrics about Matt H. ROFL. You are loved by stoner football fans. Go pack."

Al
California

I'm kind of like really cheesy nachos that way.


"No question. Just liked this article about Wayne and his hands! I would love it if the Colts could make it and beat out the Patriots though. Keep writing, Peggy."

Peggy
Calhoun, Ga.

It's a fail-safe strategy: Write a column about a man with his hand down his pants, and the female readers come out of the woodwork. (And yes, I'm rolling my eyes as I write this.) As for the Colts, I'm sure you are now throwing up your hands in exasperation.


"Yeah your the only one who (thought) that Peeon Branch (was) gonna go off Sat. You Packers hater. I wish I saved all your comments before the season started because if you got payed for predicting the future you would be broke. 'We want the ball and we're gonna choke.' "

Mr. V
Chatsworth, Calif.

I'm definitely not a Packers hater, but I do hate it when people question my intelligence while failing to understand the distinction between "your" and "you're" (and, for that matter, between "paid" and the non-existent "payed"). As for saving my comments, there's this thing called "archives" you might want to check out. In them you would find that I recently picked the Packers to win the NFC. So tell me, honestly: Is your name short for Mr. Vacuous?


"I just read your 8 Questions, and no, you're not the only one who (thought) that Branch (was) about to go off on Saturday."

Chris
Seattle

It's amazing how this reader did understand the distinction between "your" and "you're" – don't you think, Mr. V? That said, Branch got hurt early and left the game for good, so I guess I was a bit off on yet another prediction.


"Thank you for putting the Giants last on your rankings. That's where you had them last week and they went out and spanked the Bucs. So, just keep putting them last and before long, the Giants will win another Super Bowl."

AJ
Location unknown

That's all it takes? Cool – I just ranked Cal last in the Pac-10 for the 2008 football season.


"Tony Romo went to Mexico with Voldemort? And you're suggesting V. may show up at Lambeau wearing pink? I thought (J.K.) Rowling wrote the story so no one could do silly spin-offs like this. Shame on you Silver … but keep up the great rants, articles, and rips."

Tony S.
Houghton, Mich.

There's a difference between "You Know Who" (I believe Lou Graham from Foreigner owns the copyright for that phrase, from "Hot Blooded") and "(S)he Who Shall Not Be Named," as any father who has read all seven of the Potter books to his daughter could tell you.


"Still stroking the Titans? Line was physically dominant on both sides? Lay off the glue. Yes, they shut down LT, but they only got to the most immobile QB in the league once … once! He had all day to throw in the second half. The first half SD only had 6 possessions and (they repeatedly) ended up in 3rd-and-(long) because of LT losses or penalties. SD D had 3 sacks in the game and (was) dominating the Titans in the second half. The Home and Gardens position is still available."

Zeke
McKinleyville, Calif.

All of this is obviously old news, and the Chargers have proven their worth in an enormous way. But to address your argument, let's look at yards gained on the Chargers' first-down plays on their opening six possessions, until they scored their first points with 9:41 left in the third quarter: 3, minus-11 (penalty), 3, minus-3, 2, minus-2, zero (interception), 3, 0, 4, 1, 0, 7. That's a net total of seven yards on 13 plays, or just over half a yard per play. Meanwhile, the Titans had put together three drives of 11 plays or more. I give credit to the Chargers for adjusting and giving Rivers a chance to beat Tennessee through the air – and to the offensive line for its exceptional pass-blocking – but if Chris Brown hadn't fumbled at the San Diego 9-yard line early in the second quarter, I think it might have been a different game.


"Excellent reference to the movie Stripes. I just hope it proves true! Keep up the superb reporting. A Chargers fan."

John Love
San Diego

You and me together? Forget it.


"Dang boy! You make me chuckle … a lot. I too have wondered about Stripes being two movies. I've seen the second half maybe twice. Enough of that though. From someone who married a Texas girl many years ago, I have to agree, they are something special. Although I met her in California. Guess I got the best of both worlds."

Dan Rodriguez
McKinney, Texas

All I know is that a truly complete work of comedic genius, "Blazing Saddles," is coming to my neighborhood theater next week, and I'm taking my California girl to see it.


"I have a slight correction from your Jan. 11 column. In the FA Cup, if the match is a draw (or tie if you prefer), the teams have a replay (the team that was away for the first match hosts the replay). If that match is tied, they play 30 minutes of extra time. If things are still tied, they go to penalty kicks. Back in the day, they'd have multiple replays, but no more. It's not based on total goals; it's as if the original match never occurred (although at the knockout stage of the Champions League, the two matches are decided by total goals, with away goals scored being the first tiebreaker)."

Patrick.
Toronto

Thank you for the continued English soccer education. I am a work in progress. Keep it coming, mates.


"What is your opinion on the Golf Channel suspending Kelly Tilghman for two weeks for the lynching comment? Suspending her is just pandering to that professional agitator Al Sharpton. This is a man who does nothing but stir up racial tensions. How are we ever going to get past the racial issue when people like Sharpton are continuously given a national platform? He exists only to destroy people who have real jobs. He is such a horrible person! Why doesn't anyone have the guts to tell him to get lost? This is not really a sports comment but if Senator Obama wants to have any chance of winning the presidency, he should make sure that he is never in the same time zone as Sharpton during the campaign season! The Golf Channel should reinstate Kelly Tilghman immediately. I hope she stops apologizing because she has absolutely nothing to apologize for. If I could, I would hire her at twice her current salary."

Patrick
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Dude, I'll be totally honest: You scare me. She made a lynching reference about an African-American and has "absolutely nothing to apologize for"? Let me guess – you're a white guy? Look, I'm not saying it was Jimmy the Greekesque, and I understand your frustrations about Sharpton, but to believe that because you weren't offended nobody else was is a bit naive. And what Senator Obama and Sharpton have to do with one another – other than the most superficial of qualities – is beyond me.

TEXT/IM/EMAIL OF THE WEEK

"Can't believe Indy lost! Wow!"
Email from Strahan on Sunday night

"Told him (expletive) you"
Text Sunday morning from Packers linebacker Nick Barnett, on his jawing match with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in Saturday's game