What we watched: Just the latest reason for ESPN to insist on flex scheduling for Monday Night Football during the network's next go-round of negotiations with the NFL. The WWL couldn't even be bothered to send its studio crew to sit somewhere in the stadium to give us that ... well, I have no idea what it gives us when the networks do that, actually. But if it's one thing to ask fans to sit through a nationally televised matchup of also-rans in September and October, it's quite another to do so as the playoffs approach. And just think, next week is Rams-Seahawks. Can't wait.
What we're watching (all times EST, unless noted): Zenit at Porto in the UEFA Champions League at 2:30 (Fox Sports Net). Missouri vs. Villanova (ESPN) and Evansville at North Carolina (ESPNU) in men's college basketball at 7. Detroit at St. Louis in NHL hockey at 7:30 (Versus). Valencia (La Liga) at Chelsea (EPL) at 8:00 (Fox Sports Net, same-day tape). Washington vs. Marquette (ESPN), Memphis at Miami (ESPN) and Long Beach State at Kansas (ESPNU) in men's college basketball at 9.
The third and final installment of the New York Times's excellent series on Derek Boogaard: "Boogaard had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as C.T.E., a close relative of Alzheimer's disease. It is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. It can be diagnosed only posthumously, but scientists say it shows itself in symptoms like memory loss, impulsiveness, mood swings, even addiction. More than 20 dead former N.F.L. players and many boxers have had C.T.E. diagnosed. It generally hollowed out the final years of their lives into something unrecognizable to loved ones. And now, the fourth hockey player, of four examined, was found to have had it, too. But this was different. The others were not in their 20s, not in the prime of their careers. The scientists on the far end of the conference call told the Boogaard family that they were shocked to see so much damage in someone so young. It appeared to be spreading through his brain." [New York Times]
Unnecessary realignment: "The NHL's Board of Governors on Monday approved a radical realignment plan, eliminating the current two-conference, six-division setup in favor of a configuration that features four conferences based primarily on geography. Two conferences will have eight teams and the other two conferences will have seven teams. The Board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement this proposal in Monday evening's vote, pending input from the National Hockey League Players' Association. The League's intention is for the four-conference set-up to be in place starting with the 2012-13 season." [NHL.com]
A bigger, better three: "Hoping to pull off a pair of blockbuster moves that would rock the NBA, the Lakers are willing to trade anyone on their roster outside of Kobe Bryant to bring Howard and Paul to Los Angeles, two sources said." [ESPN]
Your Gorilla Reunited Interlude:
Only if there were something else to cheer about: "The biggest cheer for the Jaguars came late in the third quarter, when Weaver was shown on the stadium's large video board. Weaver and his wife received a standing ovation." [Fox Sports]
Proof that the NFL is for sissies: "In the third period of the Boston Bruins' 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night, Evgeni Malkin avoided a Zdeno Chara hit and then skated right into a helmet-to-helmet check by Daniel Paille. Were this the National Football League, this would have earned a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. Thankfully, we're the NHL." [Puck Daddy]
Merch: Managing editor Tom Scocca and contributing editor Drew Magary have both written books. You can buy Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future here, and Magary's The Postmortal here. Now do it.
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