February 2, 2005
Favre to retire:
Donald Driver seems pretty sure of it: "He's a real close friend of mine and we've been talking ... and I think he's pretty much going to hang 'em up." QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

"God has already cleared me to play."

And with that, T.O. entered the Super Bowl Media Day Hall of Fame.

Forget the groundhog and four more weeks of winter; T.O. couldn't see his shadow because of the media eclipse surrounding him Tuesday.

Translation: Four more days of T.O. mania.

At least he gave us clarity: "I'm going to play, and that's it."

More, in his "T.Own" words:

"I'm never going to be a decoy. I've never been a decoy since I stepped on the field ... I'm going to be very effective."

"If you guys are looking for me to just go out there and dilly-dally around, it's not going to happen. I'm going to go out there and play hard, and I'm going to play effectively."

"I'm 81 percent," No. 81 said. "By game time, I'll be 181 percent... I had a great day of practice. A lot of people were watching me. All eyes were on me ... I'm not 100 percent, but I'm getting there. The game is five days away, and I'll be ready."

Sum it up for us, T.O., and don't insult us with understatement:

"If you believe in miracles, just wait till Sunday."

More Media Day
Biggest letdown? Freddie Mitchell. He didn't even get a podium! Adding injury to insult, he said nothing provocative. He won't back down from his anti-Pats comments? Yawn.

Donovan McNabb continues to use charm and confidence to be the biggest media-relations winner of the week.

Speaking of return from injury, watch Pats DT Richard Seymour's return (or not) to be the biggest X-factor of the game. Talk about eclipsed!

The biggest VIP (literally) was Fridge Perry, working as a celeb correspondent. Was Super Bowl XX really 19 years ago?

For ESPN.com coverage of both Media Day sessions, see Q It Up. It nicely captures the frenetic atmosphere.

P-Jax to Lakers
Jackson "mulling" return to Lakers! Speculation out of L.A. is raging, and reportedly, even Kobe has been consulted about it.

Wait: Wasn't it "Kobe-itis" that caused Rudy T's "health problems" or "stress" in the first place?

Mavs: Beat Heat; get established as legit title contender?
George Karl: Wins home debut; well, it WAS vs Knicks
Groundhog Day: Remains one of the great movies of our era
Sally Anthony: Sad saga of Nashville ABA owner continues
Martina Hingis: Comeback stalls with Volvo 1st-round loss
"Yogasm": Berra suing TBS for using name in racy "Sex" ad
Experts insist it's not; from the "fanalyst" p.o.v., the theory has to be considered.

The irony: The Lakers could have side-stepped this entire mess (not to mention their current mediocre record) by keeping Shaq and Phil together in L.A. and shipping Kobe out of town.

Illini Roll
Any more questions, doubters? Illinois cruised at Michigan St., 81-68, behind 54 points from their unstoppable 3-guard combo. (But remember: unbeaten regular seasons mean nothing without an NCAA title.)

B.C. Watch: 19-0! (d. WVA)

Tonight's sick doubleheader:
17 Cincy at 9 L'ville (7, ESPN)
6 Duke at 7 Wake (9, ESPN)

National Signing Day
Signing Day! When all those illegal booster payoffs finally pay off! (Kidding!)

No more correlation between financial "largesse" and quality of recruiting class, particularly now that the NCAA has cracked down on the surf and turf dinners, the private jet rides and "welcome hotties."

(Don't worry, recruits: You'll get that when you arrive on campus.)

Extending the non-accusatory booster-payment analogy: The early projection has the rich (Tennessee, USC, Michigan) getting richer and the poor (Nebraska) suddenly getting rich.

Emmitt Retiring?
Retiring as a Cowboy was apparently less of a priority than retiring in time to be part of an ownership play for the Vikings.

Expect "Ring of Honor" in Dallas next year, but those of you with a Hall of Fame fetish will have to wait a few years for his lock of a nomination. He IS the best RB of the ESPN Era. (See Big 5)

NHL Update
State of NHL Union: When the hockey players receive the owners' latest proposal today, they should accept it -- even though it has a salary cap.

Why? Because the owners will never cut a deal without one. So the players can take their pain now or take it later.

They'll be kicking themselves when it's Summer of 2006 and they finally accept an owners' plan ... with a salary cap. Skills erode, fellas.

State of Sports Union
I'm pleased to say: The State of the Sports Union is healthier than ever before:

24-hour attention spans!
(And dropping!)

Undeserving obsessions!

(Thank you, FredEx!)

And averaging at least one Best! Ever! superlative a day!

Bring on my next term!
(Best yet!)

It's the new THG! No athletes have been caught using it (yet ... just wait), but to be "in the know," it stands for: Desoxy-Methyl-Testosterone.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
Media Day: Patriots
Media Day: Eagles
Top 5 ESPN Era RBs
Emmitt Smith
Yards, rings, SB MVP
Barry Sanders
No. 1 if not for no rings
Walter Payton
Languished on sorry teams
Marshall Faulk
And underutilized, too!
Brilliance vs. consistency

More Lakers' coach wish list: Isiah Thomas?! And is George Karl bummed he pulled Denver's rip-cord? How about Byron Scott? ...

Kudos to the AP for a Page 2-ish take on the Pats' unclaimed 53rd roster spot: List on eBay? Give to Barry Sanders or Bob Kraft? Clever ...

LeBron returned to the Cavs' lineup last night; even gimpy, he put up 28-7-5, but in loss ...

Magglio watch: Tigers pursuit fizzling? Are the Mets really eyeing him? ...

Check out P2's ranking of every SB QB, from Brady to Collins (special shout-out to Steve Grogan, too!) ...

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