Bill's Sports Binge: N.O. "Saints," March Madness and oh those Boltz

The headaches are becoming more frequent, I'm tasting pennies, and strange voices are constantly interrupting my day-to-day activities and ordering me to kill. Yep, either March Madness is beginning to set in or I had another Krystal burger blackout. We are merely a few days away from selection Sunday to find out which 65 teams will map out our office NCAA Tournament brackets, only to lose once again to the hippie hairy-pitted receptionist who picked teams based on her favorite colors. Among the bubble boys hoping for a dance invitation are our very own USF Bulls, whose gritty season kept them just outside the velvet rope, and who are one win, just one win in the Big East tournament away from a seat at the grown-up table for the first time since a pre-crack Whitney Houston dazzled us in The Bodyguard (1992). I still find myself asking why. Why the hell did I ever see that movie?

Injuries, trades and a deep hole less than a month ago had even the most optimistic of the Tampa Bay Lightning faithful ready to strap them into Old Sparky and throw the switch. They've walked the green mile so many times, Tom Hanks and that giant dude from Armageddon were seen at the Ice Palace sharing a cotton candy and a $12 domestic tall-boy. Don't knock it. Beer and sweets are actually a pretty damn good combination if you give it a chance. I discovered it in college one Friday night alone... again, with nothing else to eat in the apartment. You know, except condiments. Man, there was never a shortage of mayo, ketchup, and several kinds of mustard weighing that fridge door down... No food of course, but if I ever got any I was ready to slather it up good, boy howdy. Wait, where the hell was I?

After being as much as 10 points back from the final playoff spot in mid-February, the Boltz are now only four back after winning five straight at home as they host the Ottawa Senators Tuesday evening. I don't care if you're a hockey fan or not, this team will fight to the very last game. After watching the Bucs finish the season in Atlanta giving up (literally) 42 points in the first half, it's indescribably a cold beer and M&M's (you know you're curious).

Quicker Hits: Newly acquired Rays DH Luke Scott apparently has been given the "controversial" tag for his conservative views which have, among others, inspired the popular label, "racist". Why? He's not a fan of Obama. And as we all know, if you disagree with the president on any issue at any time, you must be a card-carrying member of the KKK and should be silenced, fired and summarily put to death behind Jerry Sandusky (What...that's what my besty Reverend Al told me); the Tampa Bay Rays lost their first three games and Evan Longoria is hurt...right on schedule; the Buccaneers have put the franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth (Think that's weird? Then you missed last season and I'm like totally jealous of you); finally, Anna and Kristy Berington are the first sisters ever to race the Iditarod (And yes, if they weren't hot blond identical twins, you would have never heard of them...ever.)

New Orleans and the term "Saints" have always been an incomprehensibly humongous example of in-your-face uber-irony. Imagine, such a holy and virtuous symbol used to represent a city known for epidemics, voodoo, natural disasters, death, debauchery, strippers with more than one pole between their legs, a collective mentality that thinks waiting out a Cat-5 hurricane below sea level is a good idea, and a tourist destination that smells like urine and vomit had a car-crash in your nose. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a random parking lot staircase, took a whiff and thought, "Ahh, my bachelor party...good times."

Turns out, we can now add headhunting to The Crescent City's reprehensible resume after it was discovered that Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, along with around 25 other team members, maintained a bounty pool worth up to $50,000 to reward game-ending injuries to opposing players. Williams, 53, spat out the obligatory canned apology, calling it a "mistake," my personal favorite lie when somebody gets busted. Whoopsie-daisy! Did I just carve you a check for 50-large for putting that quarterback in a wheelchair and diapers? My bad. Yo, Gregg. If you walk out of the men's room with your fly down, that's a mistake. What you and your fellow knuckle-dragging henchmen did is called a "decision." And what's with the two g's in your name, anyway? Don't you know there are children all over New Orleans too poor to afford their own g and here you are just flaunting a spare you don't need like you're all that? And right in the middle of a g shortage, too... Asshole.

Just as predictable as the apology, came the jaded and cynical reaction along the lines of, "What's the big deal? Bounties have been going on forever!" Ooo-kay, what's your point? I'm sure before 1865 you could find a few citizens of New Orleans who said the same thing about slavery. I'm no Oprah. I know and love the barbaric nature of a good bone-jarring hit in football. But there's a fine, yet significant line between pain and hurt. Pain is a great attention-getter. Makes quarterbacks rush a pass or a receiver hear footsteps and drop easy catches. But if you hit to hurt, you are nothing more than a criminal who deserves a jail cell and an arranged marriage. Bottom line, as a player I can't remember once said in an interview, "On the field, we have an unspoken understanding. You don't try and end my career and I won't try and end yours."


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