News Column

Burmese Python Caught and Killed in the Everglades

August 19, 2012

Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

Have you been reading the stories about that 18-foot Burmese python that was caught and killed in the Everglades? This is believed to be the biggest snake the State of Florida has seen since Urban Meyer left for Ohio State. ... Speaking of snakes, many Magic fans believe Dwight Howard has some serpentine qualities about him, as well. After all, when he slithered out of Orlando, we never saw him; we just saw the grass move. ... Ah, college football season is in the air. Can't you smell it -- the NCAA investigations, the academic scandals and the players getting kicked out of school for drugs? It's the most wonderful time of the year! ... Jay Leno: "Police in Florida have arrested a man who said he finally achieved his goal of shoplifting in all 50 states. You know what you call someone who steals from all 50 states? Congressman."

I presented this scenario earlier this week to UCF President John Hitt: What happens if UCF's appeal of the NCAA bowl ban drags through the end of this season, is denied, the Knights carry the bowl ban into their first year in the Big East and then end up winning the Big East and being banned from going to the Orange Bowl? Admitted Hitt with a smile: "Then (the appeal) is a bad choice." ... Breaking news: Gators coach Will Muschamp met with the media the other day. ... Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, told New York magazine, "I certainly would not want to be married to somebody who can't win championships." Rhythmical translation: "The knot we ain't tyin' if the trophy ain't O'Brien." ... Questions: (1) Who will be the starting quarterback for the Gators? (2) Who will be the starting running back for the Bucs? (3) Who put the ram in the ramalamadingdong?

The Jacksonville Jaguars do not want to renegotiate Maurice Jones-Drew's contract, and the NFL's leading rusher is still holding out. Unfortunately, MJD is the only player that makes Jacksonville nationally relevant. Without him, they might as well change their name to the Jacksonville Saguars. ... Chad Johnson gets cut by the Miami Dolphins and the sports world goes atwitter. But why? Has a bigger deal ever been made out of an over-the-hill receiver getting whacked by an under-achieving franchise? ...

Former Boston Red Sox player and manager Johnny Pesky died the other day. He had one of the best quotes about winning in the history of sports: "When we you win, you eat better, you sleep better, your beer tastes better and your wife looks like Gina Lollobrigida."... And did you see where former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan was has been charged in a Ponzi scheme? What, did he convince investors that he could beat the Gators? ... Speaking of gators, animal activists in Orlando earlier this week were protesting the slaughter of these toothy reptiles. I guess this means Nick Saban is public enemy No. 1. ...

Earlier this week, Yahoo reported that Red Sox players went to ownership in an attempt to get manager Bobby Valentine fired. So this is where Dwight Howard's been for the last four months -- in Boston? ... Greatest tag-team matches in history: (1) The Freebirds beating the Road Warriors. (2) The Hardy Boyz defeating the Dudley Boyz (3) The Van Gundy Brothers teaming up on Magic management. ... A player was ousted for cheating at the National Scrabble Tournament in Orlando earlier this week. In related news, UCF has decided to appeal. ... A moment of silence, please. Arnold Horshack has gone to Mr. Kotter's Big Classroom in the Sky. ... New Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is proficient at "noodling" -- an activity in which you wade into rivers and catch catfish barehanded. Hey, maybe somebody should tell him about the seafood case at Publix.

Open Mike

Don't forget, you can click on and read the wildly popular Open Mike blog and interactive extravaganza to get my freshest takes on what's happening in the world of sports. Here's an excerpt from a recent blog post about the Magic passing on acquiring Andrew Bynum from the Lakers:

"Has anybody ever stopped to think that maybe the Orlando Magic made the right decision by not wanting Andrew Bynum in the trade for Dwight Howard?

"According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bynum, the new center for the 76ers, will head to Germany in early September to have the same experimental procedure on his knee that Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill and Alex Rodriguez have undergone.

"The Magic's trade of Howard has been getting panned nationally and locally, mainly because the Magic didn't end up with Bynum, a young, all-star center who might have been able to capably fill the void left by Howard. Those close to the Magic have said new GM Rob Hennigan passed on Bynum because he was concerned about the long-term health of his knees.

"Bynum has had surgery on both of his knees and now is headed to Germany for a procedure known as Orthokine/Regenokine. It is described as plasma therapy and is used to help prevent the cartilage in the knee from wearing out.

"Although Bynum appeared in 60 of 66 possible games and averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season, this has to be a red flag. This is a little different than an aging Kobe and an aging Grant Hill having this procedure done. Bynum is only 24 years old and apparently has the knees of a 35-year-old.

"Of course, if Bynum goes on to play 10 more years like an all-star then the Magic will rue the day they passed on him. If his knees give out after two years and he becomes just another hobbled, immobile big man then Hennigan will look like a genius.

"As with everything else involving the Dwight trade, check back in a few years to determine whether or not the Magic got fleeced."

Mail bonding

Most interesting reader retorts, radio rabble, tangy tweets and message-board mockery of the week:

In response to who is the biggest snake in sports: "Bobby Petrino is reptilicus maximus."

In response to whether Magic made the right move by passing on Bynum and his bad knees: "I'm a Lakers fan and I don't blame the Magic. Nothing worse than seeing Bynum crumple to the floor and hoping he gets back up."

In response to Red Sox players trying to get manager Bobby Valentine players: "Valentine gets no love in Boston."

Notable quotables:

In the aftermath of the Olympics, three Jay Leno quotes from the London Games:

"Did you all enjoy the Olympics? Wasn't it thrilling when the U.S. women's team took home the gold in gymnastics? Think about that. A group of American teenagers getting a higher score than a bunch of Chinese kids -- that never happens."

"Congratulations to Mexico. They upset Brazil to win a gold medal in men's soccer. And after the Olympics ended, the Mexican soccer team, of course, returned home to their houses here in Los Angeles."

"Usain Bolt won the gold for the men's 100- and 200-meter dashes for the second Olympics in a row. You know, he has been running since he was in elementary school -- kind of like Mitt Romney."

Source: (c) 2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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