Archive for February, 2014

800px-Necco-Candy-SweetHeartsBy W.G. Ramirez

With Valentine’s Day upon us, I thought we’d take a look at some of Sports Bromances, and deliver one of those heart-shaped Valentine’s Day candies that have been around longer than any of us. You know the ones, with the one- or two-word messages on them, right?

Here are the top 7 Sports Bromances for this Valentine’s Day 2014.


Isn’t this a quaint little arrangement that has nuzzled up to the NCAA, quite possibly looking for couples counseling because the rest of the family isn’t playing nice. In a nutshell, defensive coaches don’t like offensive coaches’ hurry up offense and the NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed a rule that prevents offenses from snapping the ball within the first 10 seconds after the 40-second play clock begins, except in the last two minutes of each half. This gives defensive units the chance to substitute during that 10-second window even if the offense doesn’t.



The future NBA Hall of Famers are close friends. Last month Bryant said he will not actively recruit the Knicks forward to join the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer, but would offer advice. Melo isn’t discussing free agency right now, the Knicks are reportedly looking to deal him before the deadline and the Lakers have slowed their roll on signing him. Uhh, Kobe, I know it’s been awhile since we spoke – 18-1/2 years to be exact – but my suggestion is to get some cuddle time in before Melo heads to Spain for the FIBA Basketball World Cup and get that boy some Kobe 9s in purple and gold.



I see this as a classic ‘why can’t you love me for who I am’ relationship, as the Dallas Cowboys owner envisioned young Jason Garrett to be the organization’s next Tom Landry. But the Pokes have missed the playoffs the last four years and come up short the last three seasons with losses in the final week of the season, Garrett could be headed to the Friend Zone. Forget the Bromance in this one, can anyone else hear Theo Huxtable from the pilot episode of The Cosby Show, telling Cliff: “Maybe I was born to be a regular person … maybe you can just accept who I am and love me anyway.” And then Cliff arising from his chair and saying: “Theo, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Come to think of it, the Huxtables may do a better job running the Cowboys; I mean they did do all those lip sync routines on the staircase.



I swear these two have more drama than most of my son’s high-school friends, and believe me, there are some who put the ‘draw’ in drama. Incognito’s latest sound-off on Twitter was epic, followed with hashtags #betrayed and #railroaded. This roller coaster relationship really is better than Kim and Kanye. It wasn’t too long ago Incognito was tweeting and saying the two were best friends, and he didn’t realize he was hurting his liddo lineman buddy. Now he’s dejected because he’s apparently been cut off, and tweeted “The truth is going to bury you and your entire ‘camp’.” It’s like listening to those who start the day tweeting: “He/She is so perfect” and by the end of the day tweet: “I’m so done, so over this.”



“I’m the best corner in the game, when you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get…” We’ve all seen the infamous interview with Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews, right? But nearly four weeks later – and two weeks after Sherman has been crowned a Super Bowl champ, it appears the bad blood between the Seahawks’ cornerback and San Francisco wideout has simmered down. In fact Sherman told late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel he’d be open to a couples massage. Oh my, I’m feeling an off-season Bromance blooming.



They’ve become a staple mark for anyone just waking up on the east coast or idiots like me who get up at 3 a.m. daily. “Mike and Mike in the Morning” for four hours can be entertaining, with the guests who frequent the show, like comedian Frank Caliendo, former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards and Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter. At times, their softball questions in certain interviews allow guests off the hook and Greenie’s over explanation of how he was never an athlete gets redundant and annoying, but it’s decent shop talk and entertaining. The best of times, no doubt though, is when Golic picks on Greenie and/or wins an argument. In fact, they just might be a nicer version of Incognito and Martin, and just haven’t figured it out yet. Over 15 years, Golic is still politely – for the most part – hazing his little buddy. They’re the Skipper and Gilligan.



These two mouths that roar every day on national television have become Sports America’s darlings. During Super Bowl week, the live audience sung – ahem, attempted to  – Wale’s theme song. ESPN’s First Take has become Good Morning America for sports enthusiasts, and Bayless and Smith are the main reasons. Their relationship is as strong as they come, as they’ve grown into respected colleagues, though Bayless has been in the game much longer than any of us sports journalists. Their continued arguments over the same people – LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao – at times, has them sounding like parents favoring one or the other. It’s what the people like, though, so this is most certainly a Bromance good for sports. Now if we could only get Ernestine to make a cameo.



Arbor View senior M’Shale Easterling (standing) was involved in an tragic car accident that took his mother’s life on Sunday, and put him and his sister in the hospital. Monday night he arrived at Arbor View midway through the fourth quarter to lift his team’s spirit at the right time, vs. Sierra Vista.

By W.G. Ramirez

It’s almost chilling, what happened Monday night in the men’s basketball game between Arbor View and Sierra Vista. After all, there was somewhat of an arctic feel to the day for anyone involved with Arbor View – staff, students, parents.

One day earlier, after a 17-year-old driver ran a red light, according to police, and collided with Nneka Geter-Easterling, 42, in her Mustang. The beloved member of the parental body at Arbor View died.

Her teen-aged children, senior M’Shale and sophomore Nekea, were admitted to UMC’s trauma center. Arbor View was devastated by yet another tragedy. Personally visiting the school mid-Monday, there was a stoic feel inside. Call it bleak, if you will, as most were a tad melancholy, just saddened knowing two members of the nine-year old institution had to deal with loss.

While some were unsure of M’Shale and Nekea’s conditions, everyone knew they had survived and were to be released over the next 48 hours. Nonetheless, and as they say, the show must go on – there was a basketball game on the schedule.

Fifth-place Sierra Vista was coming, and it was Senior Night. The Aggies were coming off a heartbreaking, and somewhat controversial, loss at Durango last week, and the emotions were running high. Adding to the anxiety, M’Shale is the manager of the basketball team. His best friend, and fellow senior, Charles Porter is a key member of the team. The rest of the Aggies, well, they all love their team manager, and there they were about to take the court while their close friend was lying in a hospital bed with swelling on the brain.

Sierra Vista jumped out to an early lead in the game, until Cal Santa Barbara-bound Justin Burks drove baseline and delivered a nifty reverse lay-up to put the Aggies ahead, 12-11, with 2:31 in the first quarter. The Aggies closed the quarter on a 12-7 run and led 20-18, as senior Terrell Butler led the charge for Arbor View with seven points.

The game flow seemed erratic, as there were flashes of the “Runnin’ Aggies” the fans had become used to, and then flashes of a pedestrian team that seemed to be elsewhere, especially Porter, who was visibly shaken. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound guard didn’t seem to have a grip on the game, let alone the ball or his jump shot. After all, he had just lost someone who was like a second mother to him.

Arbor clung to its small lead over the Mountain Lions, and went into the locker room with a halftime lead of 39-32, with Butler leading all scorers with 18 points.

Halftime ceremonies included the introduction of the seniors on the team and the seniors on the cheerleading squad. And though the Grateful Red cheering section was exuberant for their Aggies, the players still seemed rattled. Something was missing. Someone, for that matter.

After both teams traded 3-point buckets to start the second half, the Lions began to stalk, and the Aggies were their prey. Sierra Vista didn’t just hang around; it closed the gap and with 1:18 left in the third quarter, and trailed by one, 53-52. At the end of the third quarter, it was the Lions who took a 57-55 lead into the final frame. The lead grew to seven, and while the Lions’ wave of blue in the visiting stands became rowdy, the Grateful Red looked more like a Painful Red, as its team looked like it couldn’t do anything right. Missed passes, booted balls, misguided shots – it looked like, at times, the Bad News Bears had taken up basketball.

At this point there’s no telling how to describe what was about to take place, though someone on social media mentioned divine intervention. The one person who could make things right and get the Aggies on track walked in. Heck, the only thing missing was a glowing light, and a church choir-like roar.


M’Shale Easterling gave a thumbs up upon arrival at Arbor View High School on Monday night.

M’Shale walked into the gym and straight to the Arbor View bench mid-way through the quarter, while the Aggies were still battling against a seven-point deficit.

“When he came in, he said to me ‘broz I heard you’ve been playing bad, go ahead and get this W,'” Porter said. “When he told me that, it got to me and I knew I had to do it for us. It’s not just me, it’s me, him and his mom – rest in peace – but it’s for all of us, it’s not just me. We’re a family and I do it for everybody.”

Porter had three points in the game at that point, having made three of four from the free throw line. For the most part, Butler and Burks had carried the team; meanwhile, point guard Corey Moore was doing all he could to will his team together and stay out of foul trouble.

Sierra Vista had a 71-68 lead with 1:54 left in the game, and was still ahead, 75-74, with 37.5 seconds left in the game. The Aggies had a chance to take the lead with 17 seconds left, but senior Tristan Lacy’s valiant effort from the corner didn’t fall. The Lions extended their lead to 76-74 after splitting two free throws. Moore had fouled out by this time, and Porter was at the point.

“I thought it was over without Corey,” Porter said. “But M’Shale talked to me again during a timeout and said ‘broz, don’t lose this game.'”

So with four seconds left, Porter took an inbounds pass, drove down the right-hand side of the court, looked to the middle, shifted back to the right and took it straight to the rack, laying it in as time expired and the buzzer sounded. Overtime, 76-apiece.

“My mom was watching over him, making sure he was alright,” M’Shale said. “She was his good luck charm.”

The Mountain Lions had no chance from there, as the place came alive and everything was back to normal. The Aggies used a 17-4 outburst in the extra frame and sealed their win on Senior Night, 93-80.

M’Shale said he’d tried out for the basketball team as a junior and didn’t make the squad, and it was his mom who encouraged him to stick with his boys and become the manager of the team. It was a decision that made him feel like he was a part of the team.

“I told her I would do it and I would always support them,” M’Shale said. “I felt like if she wouldn’t be able to be here, she would be disappointed that I wasn’t there. I wanted to see my boys play. I don’t have no fears. Nothing can hold me back except God and I just wanted to see my boys play on Senior Night, because I’m a senior too.

“Can’t have no hospital bed hold me down. A car totaled can’t hold me down. Only thing that can hold me down is myself and God, so I’m out here supporting.”

Burks, who led all scorers with 31 points, admitted it was clearly the turning point of the game, when M’Shale walked into Arbor View’s gym, giving the team the spark it needed.

“It was really inspiring,” Burks said. “I think it’s great that Chuck got the opportunity to do that for M’Shale and his family cause he was really close with him and his mom and his sister, so I think it was just a really good moment for him.”

Butler finished with 30, while Isaiah Simmons had 13, and Porter finished with 12 for the Aggies.

“I said to myself ‘we’re not gonna lose,'” Porter added. “I did it for him and his mom and everybody else. That’s like my mom too, I’ve known her since the sixth grade and I just do it for us – we’re a family.”

And while that frost around Arbor View may have melted when Porter’s coast-to-coast layup sent the game into overtime, those feelings running up and down your spine, those are chills.

By W.G. Ramirez

A gift.

That’s exactly how Arbor View football coach Dan Barnson described outgoing senior Salah Boyce moments after the letter-of-intent signing ceremony this past Wednesday inside the school’s gym.


Arbor View senior Salah Boyce

Boyce, who said he never expected to be in a position to play college football, will indeed take his talent to the next level, as he committed to the University of Mary, a Catholic school in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“The University of Mary has a great facility; the program is great, the nursing program is off the charts, the coaches treated me very well and I feel like I will be a good fit,” Boyce said. “The players as well, I really bonded with the players. Every player made me feel welcome, every player made me feel needed.

“I feel like I can definitely produce for this team. And I also feel like we can win a national championship.”

Words of a true football player.

But for those who know Boyce, a staunch believer in Christ, there’s more to the 5-foot-9, 170-pound spark plug.


From the first time Neil Boyce saw his son in pads, he said he knew his son was bred to be a football player, despite his diminutive stature.

“I lit up right away, cause I was like ‘he’s not afraid to hit’ and that was really exciting for me,” Neil Boyce said. “I guaranteed him that if he put in the work, that we’d be able to get him an athletic scholarship. I didn’t know that that was going to happen, but now that it has, man, it’s nice to see it all come together. I’m extremely proud of Salah; he’s put in the work. He’s earned everything he’s received.”

But it didn’t come easy, as the Boyce’s moved from Virginia prior to Salah’s junior season. After doing extensive research, they settled into Arbor View’s zone and within two days of stepping off the plane, Boyce was on the field at Arbor View, ready to prove himself.

“We knew that we were solid enough as a family to move anywhere and not be subject to anything going on around us,” Boyce’s mother, Christina, said. “He was ready to get to work. He’s always been committed; he never wanted to give up. He just always put in the time. As a family, we wanted to stand behind him and make sure that we set him up in the best possible way.”

Boyce had never played varsity football prior to his arrival on Whispering Sands Drive, so Barnson wasn’t sure what to expect, especially when he was deep in talent heading into what eventually would turn into a division championship season.

But in the coach’s words: “He impacted right away for us.”


After proving himself in his junior year, Boyce’s impact was healthy as much off the field, as it was on it. He became president of Arbor View’s Bible Club, helped get members and as a senior would provide pre-game prayer and motivational pep talks to his teammates.

IMG_5657“He did what it takes to be a leader,” said Greg Wolfram, the school’s athletic administrator. “He’s kind of a quiet kid, and to see how he took leadership of the team this year, from a spirited standpoint … it was interesting to see that.

“His Faith, that drives him. He wears it on his sleeve, and he doesn’t have any problem saying it to anybody.”

Perhaps that’s why his finest performance this past season – arguably his coming-out party – took place in the toughest game the program has ever had to play, on Oct. 24, 2013. Just less than a week after former principal Pat Hayden died tragically while competing in the Pumpkinman triathlon at Lake Mead, Boyce was the star of a 51-7 shellacking of neighborhood-rival Shadow Ridge.

Boyce caught two touchdown passes, returned a fumble for a score and intercepted a pass to lead the Aggies on a very emotional night.

As a senior for the Aggies, Boyce ran for 255 yards and three touchdowns on just 30 carries. He also hauled in five passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns, while he returned two fumbles for a score while tying the school record for most defensive touchdowns in a single season.

“I don’t take any of the credit for any of this, for any of his successes, I always say by the grace of God,” Neil Boyce said. “There’s no way I could have predicted all the things he’s been able to do. I can’t take all the credit, I just gave him the foundation and he has really taken it and ran with it on his own.”


Boyce said he was headed down the wrong path at one point, but believes his Faith helped lead him back in the right direction.

“I feel like the reason why I’m really here today is because of God, by the grace of God,” Boyce said. “God, he got me back on the right path. And I was able to move forward ever since I’ve been walking with God. I feel that everything I’m doing right now is for a purpose, and I feel like I can touch somebody’s life – even at the University of Mary.”

One of the most successful programs in school history, the Marauders have posted 16 winning seasons and six conference titles in the 23 years the program has existed. The Marauders also have 10 playoff appearances, advancing to the semifinal round twice. Playing in one of the most competitive conferences in the country, the national champion has come out of the Northern Sun two times in the four years the Marauders have competed in the league.

But in addition to playing for such an esteemed program, Boyce’s parents beamed with pride at Wednesday’s ceremony, saying they were amazed at their son’s progress, intrigued by the potential of his spiritual growth, and excited for not only their son, but the people he will influence along his journey.

“I have every confidence that he is ready for the move,” Christina Boyce said. “I know he’s really excited about going to a Catholic school, and being around other Christians, I know that’s important to him. I’m confident that he’s prepared. Salah’s Faith has far surpassed mine at this point. I just couldn’t be prouder of him and the example he sets for other kids in the community.”

Which wouldn’t be any different from the path he’s taken since arriving to Las Vegas, and stepping foot on the campus at Arbor View.

“I never thought that I would be in this position; I’m really grateful for the opportunities that I’ve gotten out of Arbor View,” Boyce said. “I feel everything happens for a reason, and God, he put me here to do the things I’m doing.”

Said Wolfram: “He came in in two years and became a true leader of this team – it’s impressive. For him to get a scholarship and really not be highly touted until halfway through this year – it’s impressive. He’s a great kid.”

Or as Barnson put it about Salah Boyce…

… he’s a gift.

By W.G. Ramirez

Now that it’s sunk in for everyone, that Seattle is a championship city for the first time since the now-defunct SuperSonics won the title in 1979, shouldn’t we be focused on Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona?

Just before this past Sunday’s big game, the Seahawks were anywhere from 10- to 12-1 to win the 2015 Super Bowl, but after they took apart the Denver Broncos, quarter by quarter in humbling fashion, the odds dropped and they’re now a 9-2 favorite to win, according to odds from the LVH SuperBook.

The Broncos are just behind at 5-1, while Seattle’s chief-rival, the San Francisco 49ers is sitting at 6-1. The New England Patriots, who lost the AFC Championship to the Broncos, are 8-1, the Green Bay Packers are 16-1 and the New Orleans Saints are 18-1.Texans_logo(1)

From there the odds jump, and it’s at this point most bettors look for one team to put a little chump change on and hope for the best next season. Personally, I like to look for longshots at 50-1 or higher, on teams I think can make the playoffs – nothing more.

Seriously, if you have $100 wager on a 50-1 longshot to win the Super Bowl, and that team makes the playoffs, you’re sitting on a $5,000 ticket, and the chance to hedge your way out in a matter of three or four games.

Now the team I like off the bat, with such a big number offshore (I’ve seen 50-1), and at 30-1 at the LVH, is none other than the Houston Texans. They have the No. 1 pick in the draft, they have a new coaching staff and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the shocker in the AFC next season.

Whatever first-year coach Bill O’Brien’s direction is for this team, it can only get better. Remember, this is a team that is one season removed from going 12-4 and winning the AFC South.

And during the offseason, the Texans will have some cap space, especially if they say good-bye to veteran quarterback Matt Schaub, and hello to a rookie stud quarterback. The Texans are reportedly leaning toward taking one of two quarterbacks: either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, while another possibility is Teddy Bridgewater.

Houston does have top talent to expect back from injury, including Brian Cushing and Arian Foster. On the other side of the ball, lest we forget one of the best defensive players in the game in J.J. Watt, who will now be mentored by Romeo Crennel, the former Cleveland head coach who spent 2010-12 with Kansas City and has won Super Bowl titles in the same capacity in New England. Crennel inked a three-year deal to be Houston’s defensive coordinator.

In addition to Crennel, and an entire facelift to the coaching staff, the Texans also hired former New England linebacker Mike Vrabel (linebackers) as an assistant, and I think both he and Crennel working together will have this defense shaped up.

As for the schedule, Houston faces the NFC East next season, and that’s a division that finished with a combined record of 28-36 last season, while the Texans will also play the Bills, Browns and Raiders – and that trio went 14-34 last season. Thus, seven of Houston’s opponents next season were 42-70 on the year, an average record of 6-10. The AFC South didn’t necessarily impress anyone, either, as the entire division finished the season 24-40. The Indianapolis Colts was the only team with a winning record.

Look, I’m not ready to crown the Texans division champs just yet, after all, Andrew Luck and the Colts will have a say in the matter. But based on the changes on the sidelines, the draft possibilities and a lucrative schedule – a wildcard is a possibility. And getting in the playoffs is the key, when you’re holding a big ticket to hedge against.

By W.G. Ramirez

Instant classic?

Pfft, the Seattle Seahawks looked more like Miley Cyrus, coming through MetLife Stadium like a wrecking ball in their 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos, making the No. 1 ranked offense look more like the Icebox and the Little Giants in their first half against the Cowboys from the 1994 motion picture.

Heck, something tells me Goldie Hawn and Levander ‘Bird’ Williams (Mykel T. Williamson) and the Wildcats from the 1986 motion picture could’ve done better than the Broncos did on Sunday.

The Seahawks’ stealth-like defense was simply too fast, and too much for the Broncos, and while the sharp bettors got well, the sports books made a fortune after bettors plunked down a Nevada record $119.4 million on the game, according to figures released Monday by the Gaming Control Board.

Last year’s $98.9 million was the highest in Super Bowl history, and was simply blown away by the allure of quarterback Peyton Manning and the publicly favored Broncos. Attracting nearly 70 percent of the action, overall, the Broncos went from a 1-point underdog at the open after the conference championship games on Jan. 19, to as high as a 2.5-point favorite on Super Bowl Sunday.

The wiseguys – including renowned sports bettor Billy Walters – closed the gap late, taking the Seahawks plus the points, while a fraction of their wagers were on the moneyline. Though the sharps made their fair share, the state’s 183 books held $19.67 million, a win percentage of 16.5.

While weather forecasters predicted a blizzard a year before the big game, and again forecasted snow just a few weeks ago, the total was never really swayed that much from the opening number of 47. In fact, when weather reports revealed there would be clear skies would and temperatures would be in the 40s, the total was bet up, to 48 at some places, settling in at 47.5 just before kickoff. The game landed on 51 points.

Special point spreads on the Seahawks, such as Seattle -14.5, paid big prices for the underdog bettors. Anyone laying -3.5 with Seattle took in +190; if they laid -7.5 the Seahawks paid +360; and anyone thinking blowout, and laying -14.5 points, got +650 with Seattle.

Proposition bettors who took a shot on a safety occurring third-straight year made money just 12 seconds into the game, when the snap sailed by Manning and into the end zone. The “Will there be a safety” prop paid as high as +600 at some places, and +550 at most other spots.

Ironically, 12 seconds into the second half paid another specialty prop, as Seattle’s Percy Harvin raced the length of the field when he returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. The odds of him scoring a touchdown in the game were +200. Also paying out on that score was “Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown,” at +160.

Another prop that paid a decent plus-price was “Will either team score four straight times.” Seattle helped bettors of that prop out at the 12-minute mark of the second quarter, when Marshawn Lynch plunged into the end zone from a yard out to help the Seahawks extend their lead to 14-0. The extra point made it a surprising 15-0, Seattle.

It should come as no surprise after their dominating win, the Super Bowl champion Seahawks are a 5-to-1 favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. What is a surprise is that the aging Broncos are second in line, at 7-1. Seattle’s division-rival, San Francisco, is next at 8-1, followed by New England (15-1) and Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, who are both 20-1. The Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, are 50-1 to win next year’s Super Bowl, while Jacksonville and Oakland are the longest shots to win a title, at 150-1.

CELEBRITY/ATHLETE/MEDIA POLL – When it was all said and done, 49 people contributed to my annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll.

Twenty of those prognosticators correctly picked the Seahawks to win it all, including proud Seattle-native Cindy Brunson, the easy-on-the-eyes former ESPN sports anchor who is now an Analyst/Reporter for Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports. Brunson tweeted me to ask if she had won anything for her correct pick, jokingly of course. I did tell her she had bragging rights for a year for her hometown team, to which she replied: “Right on!” Brunson was all over her Seahawks the entire season, and had been calling for a championship via twitter long before the playoffs.

Others picking the Seahawks in my poll were: Mark Anderson (Las Vegas Review Journal), Paul Anka (Singer/Songwriter), Ray Brewer (Las Vegas Sun), Chet Buchanan, (Las Vegas Radio Personality), Steve Carp (Las Vegas Review Journal), Randall Cunningham (Retired NFL Quarterback), Tim Dahlberg (Associated Press), Sean DeFrank (Vegas 7 Magazine), Will Edwards (Late-night talk-show host, Las Vegas), Ed Graney (Las Vegas Review Journal), Steve Guiremand (, Paul Gutierrez (ESPN), Matt Jacob (Vegas 7), Anthony Robles (Former NCAA Wrestling Champion), Jeffrey Seals (UNLV Media Relations), Jerry Stackhouse (Retired NBA All-Star), Danny Webster (UNLV’s Rebel Yell), Roy Wood Jr. (Comedian) and Matt Youmans (Las Vegas Review Journal Sports).

For the complete poll, read my BLOG from last week.