The summer of celebrity death continued with Saturday's stunning news of Steve McNair's murder in Nashville. McNair's toughness was the thing that most stood out about him, but I still remember watching him break a 71 yard touchdown run to beat the Bucs in 1998. The Bucs led that game 16-3 at the half, but McNair brought his Oilers (name change to Titans wasn't until the next season) back for the 31-22 win. Covering Jacksonville a year later, I watched them plan their defensive strategy around the concept of "Dare McNair". The premise: McNair wasn't an accurate enough passer to beat them, so stop Eddie George and they'd win. The 1999 Jaguars lost three times - all of them were to McNair and the Titans including in the ACC title game. Whoops. I'm not sure McNair would have been a Hall of Famer before this happened - it would have been close, since he never won a championship and only went to one Super Bowl - but he was an outstanding player and overall a big positive for the NFL. Whatever the circumstances of his death prove to be, it was a major loss.
If you're not covering Major League Baseball, summertime is for list making. It's a way for sports media to fill the time before things start to rev up again with NFL training camps late this month. ESPN has come out with their supposed rankings of the franchises of the four pro sports leagues. Any list that asks me to accept the notion that six of the top eleven franchises in sports are in the NHL is a really stupid list. On what planet could the Charlotte Bobcats be considered the 59th best franchise - ahead of all three Florida NFL teams? If this is the best the guys in Bristol could come up with, they need to either change the formula or stop coming out with the rankings.
Unfortunately, that's not the stupidest sports list I read this weekend. The ab obsessed folks at Men's Health decided they should rank the 100 most sports obsessed American cities. Their conclusions? Philadelphia, Tampa and New York are 85th, 87th and 88th. Colorado Springs is 3rd and Anchorage, Alaska is tenth. Great list, guys. Stick to "seven foods to supercharge your sex life" from now on, okay?
One of the touchstones of my childhood officially left the airwaves this weekend. Casey Kasem's American Top Forty was mandatory listening for me when I was a kid. Don't ask me why I cared whether a song I hated like Sly Fox's Let's Go All The Way rose or fell on the countdown - all I can tell you is that I did. Kasem hasn't been doing AT40 for a while, being quite a bit out of the age range of the current top 40 demographic, but had been doing a version for the "soft rock" format the past few years. Now he's getting out of the countdown business altogether. The one thing I always hated about American Top Forty was the "long distance dedication" - as you can hear from this famous Kasem outtake, I wasn't the only one. (don't click if foul language is a problem for you)