Ochocinco already racking up the fines

We’re still almost three full weeks from the official start of the NFL season and already, Cincinnati showboat Chad Ochocinco has garnered his first fine.

The charges: Possessing an electronic device and posting messages to Twitter during the Bengals’ preseason matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on 20 August.

The penalty: $25,000.

For those who were curious as to why all the hullaballoo, it is against NFL policy for players to post messages on social media websites 90 minutes before kickoff, during the game, and until postgame media obligations are fulfilled.

Ochocinco took to his @OGOchoCinco account at 6:05pm EDT and again at 9:53pm EDT on game day. Kickoff was at 8:07pm EDT.

In his second tweet, Ochocinco discussed a particularly nasty hit he took during the match.

“Man Im sick of getting hit like that , its the damn preseason [expletive]! 1day I’m gone jump up and start throwing hay makers , #Tylenolplease,” he tweeted.

After receiving the fine, Ochocinco commented on the incident and apologized to the NFL on Tuesday via Twitter, naturally.

“I’ve been fined by the league a substantial amount of money for tweeting, 1st time twitter hasn’t made me money but cost me money,” he wrote to fans.

To the NFL, he tweeted, “Dear NFL I apologize for tweeting during the game but that was 2 monthsof my Bugatti payments you just took from me,I won’t do it again.”

Oh Chad, will you ever learn?

Hot dog eating champ avoids arrest record

Six-time hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi has avoided a permanent black mark on his record after his Fourth of July arrest.

Kobayashi was detained and charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct after rushing the stage at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island last month.

He appeared today in Brooklyn Criminal Court and, with the assent of the district attorney’s office, saw a resolution of his case with an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. If Kobayashi can stay out of trouble for the next six months, his record will be wiped clean.

The Japan-native was not eligible to participate in the contest after he refused to sign a contract with the event’s sponsor, Major League Eating. Kobayashi decided to attend the contest anyway.

After his longtime rival Joey Chestnut won the competition by eating 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes, Kobayashi jumped onstage in what he claims was the heat of a fan frenzy, while his lawyer maintains that contest officials had waved him onto the stage.

He later told reporters that he leapt into the limelight to congratulate his ‘buddies’ and declare that ‘I was the champ.’

Shaq heading to Boston

I swear, I just had a heart attack: Shaquille O’Neal has joined the Boston Celtics.

Having just watched, and admittedly enjoyed, my very first episode of Shaq Vs. last evening, I find myself feeling optimistic at the prospect of having the 18-year NBA veteran join my beloved boys from Beantown - even with all the jokes about his ineptitude at the free throw line.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, O’Neal was expected to tell the team of his intentions Wednesday morning. O’Neal has been in search of a two-year deal during his stint as a free agent. The length of the contract is still up in the air, but the minimum $1.4 million annual salary is said to have already been agreed upon.

Shaq was reportedly being wooed by both the Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks, but sources report that he chose Boston with the hopes of adding a fifth NBA championship to his collection.

The Celtics needed another big fella and honestly, Shaquille O’Neal is the best available. Shaq will provide rebounding, physical presence, and a new flexibility within the lineup, whether he’s coming off the bench or on the court for opening tip.

Comcast SportsNet-New England reported yesterday that Shaq and the Celtics were close to finalizing terms, but with GM Danny Ainge out on vacation, a press conference is not expected to happen until next week at the earliest.

By the way Shaq, if you’re reading his, it’s spelled D-I-S-T-I-N-G-U-O.

Brett Favre tells Vikings, teammates, ‘This is it’

Brett Favre has informed the Vikings that he will not return for another season in Minnesota, based on reports from both the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Associated Press.

According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Favre sent a text message to his teammates saying, “This is it.”

The Star-Tribune reports that Favre will forgo his 20th NFL season due to his recurring ankle injury which is not responding to surgery and rehabilitation.

Favre, who will turn 41 in October, has been working out at his Hattiesburg, Miss. home, rehabbing his ankle that required surgery due to an injury sustained in overtime of last season’s NFC title match against the New Orleans Saints.

If the reports are true, this would mark the third retirement for the Hall of Fame quarterback, who retired in 2007 after 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers and again after the 2008 season with the New York Jets.

Last year, Favre had told Minnesota that he would not join the team before team camp began. A few weeks into camp however, Favre changed his mind and, with only three weeks of preparation, completed the 2009 season with 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns, a career-low seven interceptions and the NFC North title. Their trip to the NFC title game was Minnesota’s first since 2001.

Without Favre, the Vikings will make a decision between Sage Rosenfels and Travaris Jackson for the starting spot.

Rosenfels, 32, was acquired by the Vikings in a trade with the Houston Texans last year. In 32 games, he has 30 touchdowns and 29 interceptions and has passed for 4,156 yards, earning a career quarterback rating of 81.2.

Jackson, 27, was drafter by the Vikings in the second round of the 2006 draft, has a 77.9 rating and has 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, passing for 3,643 yards in 33 career games.

No official word has come from the Minnesota camp, nor from Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, but Vikings coach Brad Childress is expected to address the media after team practice today.

Big Ten looks for title game next season

With the induction of Nebraska to the Big Tweleven, commissioner Jim Delany says we can expect a Big Ten Championship game next season.

Also likely is an additional regular season conference game, bringing the total to nine from eight, in order to help preserve rivalries.

Delany says expanding the conference’s schedule within three or four years will ‘be really helpful to us’ and that there is ‘a real consensus among our athletic directors to do that.’

Though the breakout of the schedule will take a few years, Delany is confident the inaugural title game will take place next season. Even so, the commissioner is unsure where the match will be held and if the location will rotate yearly. The Big Ten is also not currently aligned by divisions, so a structure would have to be put in place in order to have a successful tournament.

Coming to you in 3D: ESPN college football

The collegiate gridiron may never be the same, at least for fans enjoying a couch-side view of the game.

ESPN has announced the debut of its new 3D network this fall and has just released the first three games to be broadcast this season.

Of the 13 games the network plans to host in 3D, the initial telecasts will feature three of the top five-ranked teams in the ESPN.com preseason Top 25 poll.

Sponsored by Sony, 3D coverage begins Monday 6 September at 8pm EDT with No. 2 Boise State and No. 5 Virginia Tech squaring off at the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field. Defending Big Ten champs No. 3 Ohio State take on ACC host No. 19 Miami on 11 Sept. at 3:40pm EDT, and Clemson of the ACC plays host Auburn of the SEC on 18 Sept. beginning at 7pm EDT.

The final ESPN 3D college football match will be the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on Monday 1 January at 8:30pm EDT.

In order to prevent conflicts with traditional 2D cameras, as well as blocking patrons’ views of the stadium, ESPN is experimenting with multiple new camera systems for college football. According to VP of Event Operations Chris Calcinari, one new technology is the MastCam, a robotic 3D camera rig mounted on a 20- to 25-foot high pole that will be placed on a cart and moved up and down the sideline.

Henry’s run with France comes to an end

The New York Red Bulls’ newest star Thierry Henry says he will never play for France again, even if approached by the team’s new coach, and his former teammate, Laurent Blanc.

After his country’s embarrassing showing at this year’s World Cup in South Africa, the 32-year-old announced that he has left international play after more than 12 years with his nation’s team.

Henry was a member of the French World Cup team that went on strike during a practice session. The protest was sparked by the removal of striker Nicolas Anelka from the team for his disparaging remarks about coach Raymond Domenech, during which the team rallied behind Anelka to support his reinstatement to the squad.

In an interview Friday with the sports daily L’Equipe, Henry confirmed he would not consider returning to the French national team, even if asked by Blanc.

“It’s finished…I will not come back to the French team again,” Henry said.

Henry holds the French record for 51 goals in 123 international appearances.

USC returns its Bush Heisman

I had an interested conversation about USC with my potential new roommate last night. A fellow sports fanatic and former Californian, Maytal really believes Southern California got ‘screwed’ by the NCAA for turning a blind eye to the Reggie Bush incident. She feels that the Trojans are just the unlucky school of the hundreds that cheat who got caught and of whom are now being made an example.

I have to stop right here and say that nothing infuriates me more when reading a blog post than when the writer waffles on his or her opinion for a given subject. Why waste your time and your readers’ time writing about a topic, sports-related or not, if you don’t have an opinion on it?

It was odd, then, that I found myself unsure of how to best approach a discussion on USC’s decision to return its Heisman trophy commemorating Bush’s receiving ‘The Most Prestigious Award in College Football’ and, even more uncertainly, Bush’s decision not to.

I agree with Dan Levy’s stance that college athletes are no longer ‘kids’ and know full well what they’re getting into when they decide to put their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Reggie Bush knew what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway. Still, the Heisman trophy isn’t an humanitarian award bestowed upon the greatest collegiate football player who also happens to rescue puppies, tutor children and spend time with the elderly in his spare time, just as an example. It’s about numbers and results on the field, end of story. Right?

That was my thinking when I entered this lively dialogue with Maytal and our other, less-excited-about-sports-but-still-willing-to-put-up-with-us gal pal, Alisha. I steadfastly agreed with USC’s decision to return their replica of the trophy and applaud them for their commitment to return to good standing with the NCAA moving forward but during our conversation, I was pretty much okay with the idea of Bush holding on to his statuette.

After all, Bush broke records, increased his school’s popularity, enrollment and revenue, and outshone all of his fellow contenders for the Heisman in 2005. The trophy, as I stated earlier, isn’t about the well-rounded individual who dedicates his life off the field to the betterment of his community. It’s about rewarding a player for the most exceptional season in the trenches. Had Bush been found guilty of taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, I’d have been the first in line to demand the return of his statue. But getting fancy cars and having a nice apartment for his parents paid for by agents doesn’t make him run faster, jump higher, or score any more points.

I went to the Heisman Trophy website’s history page to do some research before writing this article, just so I didn’t start saying something about how Bush still deserves the trophy based on his performance, even though he took kickbacks, and find out later that there’s a stipulation in the rules saying he had be by the book to receive the award.

The Heisman’s history page doesn’t say it, but the Heisman ballot apparently does. Good thing I read a ESPN religiously, or this post would have been more embarrassing than I’ve already allowed it to become. Gene Wojciechowski set me straight the day after my chat with Maytal and Alisha:

“There isn’t any wiggle room on a Heisman ballot. It says it right there, in bright red letters: ‘The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete.’”

There you have it, folks. Reggie Bush doesn’t deserve the Heisman Trophy for his 2005 season any more than I do for my 2005 season on the Windsor Residence Halls girls’ flag football team…which I rocked, by the way.

Mr. Bush, the Heisman Trust would like it’s trophy back. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want a trophy sitting in my house that I didn’t earn, serving as a constant reminder of the shame and disgrace I brought down upon my alma mater and the National Championship that now means absolutely nothing. Guess that’s your call though.

Scandal-ridden Woods still leads earnings list

His philandering and scandalous ways may have cost him a cool $22 million in endorsement deals for 2010, but Tiger Woods still managed to land atop the chart of highest-earning American athletes, according to Sports Illustrated’s annual analysis.

Woods defended his seven-year streak ranking No. 1 among his peers with estimated earnings of more than $90 million, though he dropped a cool 30% from his nearly $128 million in earnings two years ago.

Fellow PGA tour regular Phil Mickelson once again claimed the No. 2 spot on the list with total earnings surpassing $61 million. It has been estimated that Mickelson made $52 million for endorsements, $18 million less than Woods.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. came in third with $60 million. NBA’s newest super villain LeBron James landed in fourth with $46 million, though he will take a slight hit to his paycheck after next season’s move to the Miami Heat.

Yankees playboy Alex Rodriguez took fifth with $37 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Shaquille O’Neal, $35 million; Kobe Bryant, $33 million; Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning, tied at $31 million apiece; and Dwyane Wade, $27 million.

Serena Williams uncertain for U.S. Open

Line judges in New York may rest a little easier tonight.

Due to a foot injury sustained shortly after winning her fourth Wimbledon title, the WTA has announced that Serena Williams’ participation is questionable for the 2010 U.S. Open.

The No. 1-ranked Williams cut her right foot on broken glass at a restaurant shortly following her win at the All England Club. Needing time to recover from surgery, the tour said she will miss all three tournaments leading up to the Open, including events in Istanbul, Cincinnati and Montreal. The tournament in Montreal starts 16 August, the U.S. Open begins on the 30th of that month.

“I am having a tough few days,” Williams Tweeted Monday. “My mom and friends have been taking good care of me. I hope to be back on the tour soon. I miss playing.”

Williams’ return to the final Grand Slam of the season is highly anticipated following her outburst and subsequent loss in the semi-finals there last year. After being called for a foot fault at the end of the match against Kim Clijsters, Serena went off on a tirade and was subsequently fined a record $82,500.