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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Angle Tied to Major Steroid Scandal, WWE Plots
World Domination, Ratings, and LOTS More... 
March 6, 2007

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

There's nothing quite like Unscheduled Weather on a Saturday Night, is there?
 

Last week, it was an unscheduled Ice Storm that kicked in around the end of a UD basketball game, and which was SUPPOSED to stay well to the north. Then this past Saturday, a forecast for "light flurries with no accumulation, ending by early evening" somehow magically became "2 fresh inches of snow on the ground when I finally decided to drive home at 2:30am."

 
Just fantastic. Throw in fish-tailing badly around an unplowed/untreated corner RIGHT IN FRONT OF A FRICKING COUNTY SHERIFF, and you've got yourself one hell of a fun night. Provided you like staring bullets into your rearview mirror and eventually pulling into the driveway with a pulse rate up around 170.

I loves me all manner of bad weather, but c'mon: can't we reserve this kind of shit for random Tuesday nights, instead, when it will affect no one? Or at least: affect Not Me?

Here's some wrestling: 

  • No way getting around the Big News of the Day....
     
    Sports Illustrated's on-going investigation into the recent multi-agency prescription drug bust(s) in New York and Florida has linked Kurt Angle to the pharmacy in question. Records of at least three prescriptions for Angle (all for recognized steroids) have already been found among the tons of documents and gigabytes of hard drive data that authorities are going through.
     
    The same bust/investigation has linked Evander Holyfield, Gary Matthews Jr., Jose Canseco, and other athletes from many different sports to the pharmacy and "wellness center" that got busted 2 weeks ago.
     
    It's worth noting that authorities are pretty much uninterested in arresting the athletes themselves... the key for them was to start breaking down the mechanism by which the athletes can so easily obtain steroids, growth hormone, and other illicit substances courtesy of unethical doctors and purveyors. The athletes themselves, in fact, can claim they obtained the substances legally and with a prescription.... however, the prescriptions are pretty much 100% horseshit, signed by doctors who have never examined the patient, and the pharmacy that supplies the substances knows this full well when it manufactures and distributes the substances. *THAT* is the part of the mechanism the authorities are concerned with shutting down.
     
    As to disciplining the athletes who are linked to these sorts of drug rings (and by all accounts, not only are there hundreds or thousands or athletes who could be named from the Palm Beach bust alone, but there will be other investigations/busts of similar scams as various agencies work together and continue to have success)... well, that's gonna come down to the governing boards of each sport and whatever anti-doping rules may be in effect and whether the leagues in question are even authorized to take action against an athlete if he had successfully evaded their testing procedures.
     
    Or, as concerns us as Wrestling Fans: it's gonna come down to whether those in charge even really give a shit.
     
    Let's face it: Kurt Angle is not the only pro wrestler to take steroids in the last decade. It highly unlikely he's even the only wrestler to utilize the precise wellness center and pharmacy that got busted. He's just unfortunate in the sense that his name has come out already, and that -- due to his Olympic background -- his transgression would be viewed as a bit more "real" than those made by phony pro wrestlers.
     
    And let's also not waste any time giving lip service to the crap about "legally prescribed" or about how there could have been a "legitimate medical condition" or whatever.... that's doubletalk and it's bullshit. Whether used to speed healing or used just for cosmetic reasons, we're talking about using a controlled substance to gain a competitive advantage.
     
    And yet, the issue remains: does wrestling, as an industry, Give A Shit? Furthermore: should it?
     
    "Wellness Programs" aside, I pretty much think the answer to the former is "no." The answer to the latter is an unqualified "I dunno."
     
    As long as Vince McMahon derives pleasure from looking at men's bodybuilding magazines, and feels as though that's the way a real manly man looks, the tacit creed in the (domestic) wrestling industry is gonna be "bigger is better." The fact that Chris F. Masters is on TV every week despite, objectively speaking, sucking is a testament to exactly how far cosmetics can get you in the wrestling business. Even to this day.
     
    Should there be some concern, now, though? Even though it isn't the same for wrestling as it would be in a legitimate/un-predetermined Sporting Contest, one should not discount the matter of bad press and public sentiment, here. Vince lives in a bubble where he tells people that he knows his fans, and they don't care HOW their superstars get to look the way they do, they just care THAT they look the way they do. Stick a few needles in Chris Masters' ass, and he's TV Ready and We All Love Him! Install a pair of plastic orbs in Candice Michelle's chest and you will never find a More Universally Beloved Paragon of Diva-ness! Right?
     
    Well, no. But it's the way WWF/E has operated for decades, now, and we might finally be seeing a big enough shift in public opinion that Vince better watch his ass, here. People seem to be moving past the Generally Annoyed Phase, and as more athletes in more sports are implicated, will all get Genuinely Pissed. Sanctity of the Sport this, Unleveled Playing Field that, and so forth....
     
    If wrestling gets a rep of being dirtier than MLB and the NFL combined, that's simply not gonna be good for business. Baseball and football can say "Well, we've had our scandals, and so far, fans are still supporting our product," but that's because of the nature of Legitimate Sporting Competition. People will still want to see Who Wins.... but wrestling is fake, baby, and to a large extent, it's not about tuning in and buying tickets to see who wins. At the very top levels, revenue is generated by the creation of characters that fans can't get enough of. If a growing majority of people view wrestling as dirty, and wrestlers as cheating drug addicts, it's gonna be really hard to convince us to buy into the next generation of superstars. That'll mean less reason to tune in, less reason to stay hooked, less reason to buy that next t-shirt, and so forth....
     
    Again: the current paradigm has served Vince well enough for decades, and maybe he'll get away with it for decades to come.... but with Congress investigating baseball and federal and local agencies working together to bust up these steroid rings, we could be reaching a critical mass where those involved in using these substances are possibly criminalized (or at the very least, vilified by the fans) the same way that those distributing the substances are. If that happens: look out.
     
    In the specific case of Kurt Angle being named by SI, I don't see any huge backlash on Angle himself, much less on TNA. TNA signed the guy despite Angle having "wellness issues" lots worse than steroid use, and in this case, the "I obtained the substances legally and with a prescription" defense is all they have to parrot. I mean, it's horseshit, sure, but it's all TNA or Angle has to say on the matter, and then it goes away. For them. For now.
     
    The full text of the Sports Illustrated cover story (including the blurb about Angle) can be found here.
     
  • There was other big news late last week, as word has started to circulate about a possible re-organization of WWE's "brand" philosophy. And nope: no matter how much it might seem like WWE no longer gives a flying frick about the brands and might as well just end the whole experiment, that's NOT what I'm talking about.
     
    In fact, it's just the opposite: an EXPANSION of the Brand Concept into international markets.
     
    For those of us in the US/Canada, there would be no real change, other than seeing the delineation between RAW and SD! become a bit more clear. RAW would remain the Flagship Brand of the entire company (a version of the story that I know is running in Meltzer's "Observer" says that ECW would somehow fit into this scheme, as well, though I was led to believe ECW would just be folded into RAW if any of this comes to pass). Then SmackDown! would be more aggressively branded as a Latino/Urban brand, to appeal both to hispanics/blacks in the US as well as to Mexico and Latin America.
     
    Then, there would be at least two new "territories" or "brands" added: one in the Pacific (Japan/Australia/etc.), and one in Europe. Each territory and brand would have its own management, creative team, and exclusive roster designed to appeal to the local audiences. So hey, maybe there *is* still a chance of Tajiri holding a WWE Title again some day?
     
    It's an interesting idea, in theory. And that's all it is for now. Shane McMahon is the one said to be in charge of coming up with the business plan, and with WrestleMania looming, you can bet this is the sort of thing that gets played out over the course of months, not weeks. At least: it should, unless the tards up at Titan Tower haven't realized the hows and whys of ECW's utter failure so far. Something like this: you come up with a good, well-crafted plan, and then you execute it. You don't just make shit up as you go along because Vince keeps changing his mind.
     
    And humorously enough, one person I spoke to had a theory about why this whole discussion may have come up in the past few weeks.... and it is a theory that would fall under the category of "Vince being Vince." This is not factual news, merely an informed bit of speculation, but with the whole mess that happened when WWE wanted to bring Mistico in for a try-out match, and his handlers in Mexico tried to prevent him from taking the gig, Vince might have blurted out something like "This shit wouldn't happen if we owned Mexico." Then somebody else goads him with "Sure, and why not Japan, too?". Then "Hell, we could RAKE in Europe." And the next thing you know, Shane's off working on a project for World Domination.
     
    No matter how nascent the plan, and no matter how far away we are from it (or anything like it) actually being implemented in reality, it's a scenario rife with intriguing possibilities. For one, if SD! is re-branded as a niche product domestically (and the "A-product" for Mexico and Latin America), that means the RAW/Flagship Brand might expand and fill up 4 hours of TV time again. Stocking the regional territories will be just one interesting personnel exercise; stocking the Flagship Brand to adequately take up (at least) 4 hours of TV per week and 12 PPVs per year will be another.
     
    You could also create a model in which wrestling once again has just one recognized "World Champ" and much like the old NWA Days, he actually travels all over the world to the different territories. The "Flagship" Brand's title would obviously be the Big One, but that champ could do tours of the other regions, and in my mind, you hook it up so his Annual Three Week Visit (or whatever) coincides with that region's own Biggest Event of the Year (which I would imagine could be shown as PPV Events here in the USA, bringing WWE's total annual PPV output back up to 16-ish if you do one domestic PPV for each international region). Each brand/region can have a champ, but it'd be cool to be back to having just one universally acknowledged World Champion.
     
    The possibilities for generating programming for an expanded 24/7 on-demand service are huge. The possibilities for using the regions to scout and develop talent that might otherwise fall outside of WWE's usual parameters are delicious (some fricking variety would be nice, so we don't go through another phase like we're in now where everybody pretty much acts and moves like Orton or Masters and any deviation from the bare minimum of mediocrity is likely to get you in trouble).
     
    The only thing I'd be worried about is if WWE doesn't experience instant success in these territories, and the fans who pay the price are those of us here in the Flagship Region. Not only might WWE try to dilute our Flagship Brand to send help to the other territories, but as time goes on, we might be asked to bear the financial burden of keeping those territories going when WWE decides to squeeze every last penny out of their reliable domestic fanbase. Kind of like how the University of Dayton has mastered the art of gouging its basketball fans so they have enough money to run a shitty football program. Imagine the one, single Flagship Brand somehow churning out 16 PPVs a year on its own because the other brands aren't healthy enough to run any of their own.... you think things are bad now with craptacular PPV line-ups? Hoo boy....
     
    But again: this is all off in the far distance, and may be shot down or re-imagined or whatever before anything comes to pass.... still: an interesting little thought exercise, no?
     
  • The tumultuous saga of Wrestling Society X on MTV continues....
     
    The show is NOT on tonight or this week, and is teetering on the brink of cancellation as new management steps in. BUT... WSX is assuring fans that they'll return NEXT Tuesday night, and have also been told they'll air the Tuesday after that, too.
     
    Oy. Just trust me on this: the product isn't good enough to be worth this much hassle of trying to find it or to find out when it's on and when it's not. And even if all 10 episodes do somehow make it to air on MTV (or MTV affiliated networks), all this craziness is a pretty solid indication there won't be any more episodes produced.
     
  • Ratings catch-up:
     
    Last Monday's RAW did a 4.3 rating, which is the biggest audience for RAW in over a year (going back to the stretch where Edge was "the highest rated champion in over 5 years" in January '06). As we discussed last week, it was a strong show, and made nice headway towards WrestleMania... and if there's a small incremental audience of casual viewers who are tuning in because of all the tabloid TV coverage of Trump, well, WWE's certainly putting just about their best foot forward for them.
     
    Tuesday night had ECW doing a 1.4 rating, which is up a tick from the week before, but still abysmal compared to where ECW started last summer. It was actually a decent show, with a solid MitB qualifying match and a strong show-closing angle (Lashley diving THROUGH a steel cage and onto Umaga), but I'd contend that as long as you're announcing that Bob Holly is wrestling in the main event, a 1.4 rating is what you fricking deserve. [Against the second half of ECW, WSX on MTV did a 0.6, which is seemingly where their audience has settled; not only does that make it the lowest rated first-run show of MTV Tuesday night block, but it also means WSX lost 30% of its lead-in. Not good.]
     
    TNA on Thursday was business as usual. A rock solid 1.1 rating, and more importantly, the highest rated portion of SpikeTV's Testosterone Madness Thursday Line-Up (which also has Pros vs. Joes and UFC stuff).
     
    Friday's SmackDown! did a 3.0 broadcast rating, which is down a bit from the week before (which was the best rating SD! has done since moving to Friday nights in 2005), but pretty much in line with recent averages. SD! could be facing tougher times ahead, however, as contractual disputes between Viacom and some cable systems could result in CW Network programs being pulled. I believe this affects markets in which the CW is not carried by an actual over-the-air affiliate but is distributed via a digital cable channel (and only in markets where this is the case and your carrier is Comcast)... this arrangement was reached last fall, but the temporary deal expires this month, and the CW wants more money to provide the programming, while Comcast thinks that if CW doesn't have an affiliate in place, then they're doing the CW a favor by broadcasting it for free. Don't know if this'll affect you, but it could means up to a half-point augmentation of SD!'s ratings in coming weeks if it's not patched up....
     
  • There is word going around that Dusty Rhodes has successfully campaigned for ECW to introduce Tag Team Titles to the brand. I don't know if that's necessarily the cure-all to what ails ECW, but just creating ANYTHING worth fighting over to use as a storyline device for the uninspired piece of weekly drek that is ECW is probably not a bad thing.
     
    My thinking is that maybe if Vince/Etc. are so rabidly against the idea of actually pushing any of the "ECW Originals" in key storylines, a tag division might be a place where some of that old spirit can live on in its own little ghetto.
     
  • Speaking of titles, there's a chance that TNA will be losing the rights to the "NWA" name, and thus, to the "NWA" Titles. Which I'm sure will upset a few people. But only if they are total wankers.
     
    I've already heard from a few people who want TNA to do a whole elaborate angle out of this where they acknowledge the change by having somebody "throw down" the NWA Title and then create a new TNA Title or whatever, and you know what? No. Just: no. Nobody cares. The "NWA" Title ceased to have meaning in 1991, so just quietly rename the title (and the tag titles), and go about your business with the "NWA Title Change" happening behind closed doors in the basement of whoever's mother's house that's currently playing at being on the "NWA Board of Directors."
     
    The only people who'll give a shit when Bryan Danielson starts claiming to be the NWA Champion will be the 188 people in the high school gym where he's working. The rest of TNA's 1.5 million weekly viewers won't even notice that Christian's being called something a little bit different instead of "NWA" Champ. If they notice anything, it should be that, by christ, TNA should use this opportunity to buy themselves a non-gay-looking title belt.
     
  • When Jerry Lawler was announced as a 2007 inductee to the Hall of Fame, it wasn't necessarily accepting in as good of spirits as you might expect. For one, Noted Dickface Kevin Dunn vetoed Lawler's request that Lance Russell (long time Memphis TV announcer) do his induction speech, because nobody knows who he is. Umm, dum dum, how many people do you honestly think knew who SD Jones was last year when he inducted Tony Atlas?
     
    And for two, Lawler has a pretty serious Peter Pan Complex, and doesn't cope well with the idea that he's getting older, so getting inducted to the Hall kind of harshes his mellow. Now, 17 year old girls across the nation might actually have reason to suspect he's an incredibly creepy and grandfatherly 60, rather than a slightly creepy and fatherly 40. And that'd REALLY harsh Uncle Jerry's mellow.
     
    I had a couple ideas for who could induct Lawler and meet Dunn's stringent standards. But I'm sure Jim Carrey is busy, and that Andy Kaufmann isn't yet ready to reveal himself to Lawler after his years spent under a mask in Mexico. Hey: maybe Tony Clifton? 
     
  • From the "Not Exactly Shocking" File: WWE has decided to stay the hell away from the Hammerstein Ballroom this summer, and has rescheduled the ECW One Night Stand PPV for Jacksonville, FL. On one hand, I say: Smart move, because there are vindictive fans in NYC who would pay good money just to get on PPV and shit all over what WWE has done to ECW. There's a very good, very real chance that by June, RVD will be gone, CM Punk will be buried, and the announce team will be Todd Grisham and Brad Armstrong. WWE would be CRUCIFIED by those fans.
     
    On the other hand, I say: SISSIES~!
     
    Who called this happening? And how many months ago did I?
     
  • Speaking of ECW and the disposition of RVD.... apparently, there are some within the company who like RVD and what he brings to the table and are making overtures to keep him around. But the guy who negotiates contracts is not one of them. Apparently, RVD had the gall to say (while still under contract) pretty much all the same things about Johnny Ace that lots of other people have said (while NOT under contract). Causing poor, poor Johnny Ace to lose face with a roster full of people who already mostly think he's an incompetent sycophant, anyway, even if they're polite enough to not say so to his face like RVD did.
     
    So now Johnny Ace is sandbagging negotiations with RVD and trying to bad-mouth RVD to the people who want to see RVD re-signed. Or so goes the story. Oh, Johnny Ace: why must you make it so easy to ponder how in the blue hell you even still have a job? What a fuckwit.
     
  • Chris Daniels was backstage again at TNA Tapings last week, and should get his own massive re-push as soon as he "Samoa Joes" ROH. In other words: no more being an ROH regular will equal a bigger push from TNA.
     
    This makes sense for all the same reasons it made sense when Joe did it. Daniels, it might surprise you, ain't exactly a spring chicken even if you, personally, didn't hear about him for the first time until 2004, and thus, staying a bit more focused on TNA duties should keep him more durable for a longer time.
     
  • Mick Foley's new book (his third, that's right, THIRD autobiography~!) "Hardcore Diaries" is out today. Pretty much tells the story of last year's prolific and productive mini-return to WWE from a backstage perspective, and sounds like a jim dandy that'll be on my nightstand here before too long.
     
    In doing some interviews promoting the book, Mick admits that yes, he pitched some ideas for himself to appear at WrestleMania. He even enthusiastically approved the OO Notion that he could tear the house down against Umaga. But he's been frozen out of a spot at WM23 as things stand now.
     
    However, Mick doesn't care about that. Following last night's "re-hiring" on RAW, Foley has arranged to make his return to TV storylines not at WrestleMania, but instead, the night after, in the hometown of his Favorite Internet Jackoff. That's right: Foley's slated for RAW here in Dayton on April 2. Now let's just make it the kick-off of that Foley/McMahon's mini-feud I've envisioned (basically the same as HBK/McMahons from last spring, just with Mick, instead), and I'll be one happy The Rick on April 2.
     
    Also: Lilian Garcia should dress Extra-Hot that night, too. Because it would please me. Thank you, drive through.
     
  • That reminds me that I have a Minor Trish Stratus Update.... sadly, she'll not be coming to Dayton on April 2 to help mend my spirits, but she has signed on to host a new TV show in Canada that'll basically be like "American Idol," but with stand-up comedians.
     
    Or I guess it'll be like whatever-that-one-show-was-called, except with Canadians. I'm pretty sure there was a comedy version of American Idol here in the US already, anyway. I'm equally as sure that I couldn't possibly have given a shit, which is why I'm drawing a blank, here....
     
    Anyway: Trish has certainly shown she can be funny, so it's a good fit that way. Also, it's not filmed in freaking Muncie, IN, so it's a good fit for her in another way, too. 
     
  • Autopsy results are in on Bam Bam Bigelow.... lethal amounts of both cocaine and benzodiazaprine (sp? I'm not a doctor, but I think, phonetically, that's pretty close to what I was told; it's an anti-anxiety drug) were found in his system. Lethal doses independently, and supposedly, those are two substances that aren't necessarily designed to work and play well together, either, which would just increase the stress on Bam Bam's system that much more.
     
  • I think that's about all for today.... normally, I'd throw in a RAW Rundown for you, but I think we had MORE than enough material for today, and I grow weary.
     
    I will say this, though: last night's show was another swell one, I thought. I'm loving this seemingly-effortless, breezy, quality-episodic-TV vibe RAW's had going the past month or so. It's nothing fancy, nothing tricky, it's just sensible and solid and it's getting my juices flowing a bit heading into WrestleMania Season.  To me, there's no reason you can't do this 52 weeks a year, but then again, my career didn't peak at "Assistant Writer for World According to Jim," so truthfully, it's not fair putting myself in the shoes of the poor dimwitted Writer Monkeys. But whatever: I'll takes it wheres I can gets it. And lately on RAW: we've been getting it.
     
    Special kudos for the Guest Referee Announcement Segment, which was Extra Long, but also Extra Fun, with the Bischoff and Foley swerves before Austin finally came out. They also played it perfectly: Austin didn't have to say a word to pop that crowd, so he didn't. Which leaves them to save Austin's Address as a Ratings Ploy for tonight's ECW. Bravo, WWE, well played.
     
    Also: I'm not sure who they were trying to fool with the Carlito/Flair Money in the Bank qualifier... if that last spot isn't going to Randy Orton so that he can keep his slow-flame-out with Edge going, I'll eat a bug. Then we can watch with copious schadenfreuede as Orton flops as a babyface over the summer (again), while Edge continues to rule the known universe by adding MNM to his As Yet Untitled New Heel Faction. 
     
    Good stuff last night, as a whole. But just overshadowed by Angle/World Domination news and other stuff as far as today's discussion goes. I'll try to get back to being more thorough just as soon as I can, folks..... see you again as soon as humanly possible.


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 

 


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