Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why does anyone in sports need a publicist?

When some former athletes find trouble, it surprises you. Darren Hambrick is not one of those people. He's perhaps the most physically gifted defensive player I've ever covered other than Jevon Kearse, but Hambrick has always been trouble waiting to happen. The latest episode involves allegations of sexual battery among a variety of charges. Hambrick was kicked out of UF for the infamous incident with Anthony Riggins at the Sugar Bowl after the 1994 season, then finished his college career at South Carolina. Simply put, he had no business being anywhere near a college campus. One of his teammates with the Gamecocks told me he was terrified of the guy while he was in Columbia. I wish more programs would step up and say no to signing guys like this, but the reality is Darren Hambrick would be a five star recruit with teams and their fans drooling over his potential today just like they were in the early Nineties. It's a shame.

While I'm not a big Kellen Winslow fan, I can't blame him for being angry at Cleveland management about how a health issue of his was handled last season. The problem was a staph infection, which has bothered a number of Browns players over the past few years. Apparently due to the infection being in the vicinity of Winslow's family jewels, inaccurate rumors swirled about him having a venereal disease. Meanwhile, Winslow's publicist suggested blaming the problem on a cut suffered on a car door. Apparently Kellen opens his car very differently than you and I.

Being famous sounds like a great thing to lots of people, and I'm sure there are times when it actually is. As Erin Andrews found out over the weekend, there are plenty of times when it isn't. Now it's Ben Roethlisberger's turn to learn, as he's being sued in Nevada for a supposed sexual assault a year ago. While being a star doesn't mean someone can't also be guilty of sexual assault, the circumstances here look far more like someone seeing a possible payday and tying to cash in. The timing has the potential to make this a significant distraction for the Steelers QB as they try to repeat.

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything going on in the news, but is outstanding. If you haven't heard the Nirvana/Rick Astley mashup, you need to do so. If you weren't familiar with these musical acts in your high school/college years, feel free to skip this item.

Today I head over to Birmingham for SEC Media Days. Over the next three days I'll cross paths with all twelve SEC football coaches, 24 players, and other assorted sports media celebs and friends (some fit both categories). This year's opening day is pretty weak, with none of the teams likely to be selected to finish higher than fourth in their divisions by the media. Thursday is when the circus truly begins, as Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes will be among those there to witness the spectacle that is Alabama day at the Wynfrey Hotel. Meyer's got to be feeling pretty good about his clout right now when he's got billionaire T. Boone Pickens acknowledging that he's taken advice from the UF coach. I'll do what I can for updates between now and Friday, but between traveling, covering the event, writing 2-3 articles per day for fightingators.com and doing my Columbia radio show there may not be sufficient time to blog as well. I'll do the best I can, but wanted to let you know about the potential issues.

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