Whitt's Merten's End: 12.31.10

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It's been a fun two weeks, sports fans. Richie's back on Monday, but before I give him back his blog, here are some week-end thoughts before I go.

*Sunday's Cowboys-Eagles game looks like it might be the first NFL start for Stephen McGee as Jon Kitna continues to nurse a strained abdominal muscle. While I wouldn't have advocated giving McGee any playing time just to see what's in his bag, I gotta admit that Kitna's injury adds excitement to a game that otherwise would be a boring match-up between a 5-10 team and one headed to the playoffs with nothing to gain in their postseason placement with a win.

*The Cowboys have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans kicker Kris Brown to challenge David Buehler. Dallas needs someone else to kick PATs and field goals, but Brown? Meh. I'd be more interested in seeing what Mat McBriar can do.

*Remember when the Green Bay Packers were interested in Marion Barber before the trade deadline? Me too, which means Jerry Jones failed to get anything back for a player likely to be handed a pink slip after the season.

*OK, one more. Remember when the Cowboys traded first, third and sixth round picks in the 2009 draft for Roy Williams and a seventh rounder in 2010? Of course you do. With Williams likely to be cut as well, any chance of getting anything from those picks disappears with him.


*Not (safe for work).

*One of each.

*The Houston Texans appear to be retaining Gary Kubiak as head coach and firing defensive coordinator Frank Bush. Oh, and they're reportedly interested in Wade Phillips as Bush's replacement. I'm guessing the rest of the AFC South is willing to chip in some dough to make it happen.

*Dez Bryant's busted ankle isn't healthy enough to play in an NFL game, but at least it's not stopping him from bowling, which doesn't bother me nearly as much as Bryant using "lol" at the end of his tweet announcing his trip to Alley Bowling in Arlington.

*It's no secret that the headline writers at The Dallas Morning News are skilled in the art of trickery. Their latest feat: "C.J. Wilson hopes to leave the Rangers someday for another 'team.'" That other team? Sports car racing.

*Former Arlington mayor and Tarrant County Judge Tom Vandergriff died yesterday, two weeks after the death of Charles Wangner, an assistant treasurer with the Washington Senators and chief financial offer with the Texas Rangers. Vandergriff was instrumental in building Arlington Stadium and then convincing Major League Baseball to bring the Senators to Arlington in 1971. A statement by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan said, "There is no individual that had a greater impact on the Texas Rangers franchise in its 40 years of existence." Two big losses to end what otherwise was the best year in the organization's history.

*The Rangers entered this offseason with their sights on spending lots of dough on Cliff Lee. Yet after losing out on Lee, they've suddenly reverted to the budget-conscious club of old. The latest evidence? Apparently, they're interested in Bartolo Colon. The same 37-year-old Bartolo Colon that didn't play in the majors this year and who last pitched a full season in 2005.

*Rafael Palmeiro is a Hall of Famer in my book, but he's also a serial liar. "I have never taken steroids," he said recently. Just own up to your mistake, Raffy, and maybe you'll get in some day. Maybe.

*SMU lucked out with a home bowl game against Army yesterday, but it proved there's still a long way to go in its return to prominence, losing the Armed Forces Bowl 16-14. Matt Szymanski missed two field goals, including a 47-yard attempt that would have given the lead to the Ponies. The miss cost SMU its first back-to-back winning seasons since the death penalty. Pony down.

*I understand that it's newsworthy to report the brutal killing allegedly by 20-year-old Nickey Van Exel, but I'm lost as to why it's categorized under sports. Sure, he's Nick Van Excel's son, but shouldn't that be a side note instead of the lead?

*Somehow 215,905 fans so far have voted Brendan Haywood to the NBA All-Star Game, which puts him third among Western Conference centers. Another reason why fan voting in any sport is a complete joke. *A surprising nine of the 16 NFL games on Sunday have playoff implications.

Chicago at Green Bay: The Bears can nab the first seed with losses by Atlanta and New Orleans, and the Packers can secure a wild card spot.

New York at Washington: The Giants can sneak in as a wild card with a win and loss by the Packers.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans: The Saints can win the NFC South with a victory and loss by the Falcons. The Bucs need a win and losses by the Giants and Packers to win a wild card spot.

Carolina at Atlanta: The Falcons can win the NFC South and secure the top seed with a win.

Jacksonville at Houston: The Jags can win the AFC South with a win and loss by the Colts.

Tennessee at Indianapolis: A win by the Colts gives them the AFC South.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland: The Steelers can win the AFC North with a win.

Cincinnati at Baltimore: The Ravens can win the AFC North with a win and loss by the Steelers.

St. Louis at Seattle: The winner of this one becomes the NFC West champ. Let's hope it's the Rams, otherwise the Seahawks will enter the playoffs with a losing record.

*Patrick Sauer has a great story about viewing the first-ever NBA telecast on ESPN's new 3D channel between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks. While it seems ultra-cool, Sauer also explains the downfalls: namely, watching TV with $150 glasses on your face and an inordinate amount of random people jumping through the screen.

*Some year-end items worth checking out: Sports Pickle's 15 funniest athlete tweets and top 20 photos of 2010, ESPN Page 2's top 103 quotes of the year, Deadspin's Worst of 2010 and Gawker's top 100 videos of the year in 170 seconds.

*And then there's this. Happy New Year.

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