Wednesday, February 21, 2007

WWE Smackdown TV Taping – The Obligatory Wrestling Post (Part I)

After spending more than four years writing about everything but wrestling at two of the leading pro-wrestling sites online, I think it's about time for some full disclosure.

I watch pro wrestling.

Well, kind of.

These days, I rely on DVR to do most of the dirty work, though. Out here on the West Coast, we don't get any of the weekly shows live, so I'll check the spoilers to see if I should watch. Even then, I'll lean heavily on the fast forward button and finish most two hour shows in 15-20 minutes.

In California, admitting you watch wrestling is not unlike telling your friends at the Black barbershop that you watch baseball. The only people in San Diego who'll own up to watching WWE are either kids or Mexicans. And, heaven help us if the Mexicans start having lots and lots of kids. Ahem.

Seriously…Mrs. Bootleg and I were together for three years before she learned of my secret shame. Remember the last time y'all lifted up your shoe only to find dog sh*t on the sole? That's the face she made that night.

She eventually learned to tolerate all of the fake and, while never becoming a regular viewer, she'd sit through a segment here and there. Oddly enough, she'd stop watching for several months, then walk into the living room with a dismissive "I can't believe you watch this" and, without missing a beat, say, "Wait, when did The Rock come back?"

For those scoring at home, Mrs. Bootleg is back to being "aghast" at wrestling. I remember her indignantly leaving the room during one of Cryme Tyme's ring intros with the same silent rage that she usually saves for bruthas who date outside the race.

So, it goes without saying that the wife would not be joining me at last night's Smackdown/ECW TV taping.

This was only the fifth live show that I've attended. In '88, I saw Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage headline at the old Los Angeles Sports Arena. To this day, the only thing I remember is seeing Ken Patera and Dino Bravo arrive in the same rental car, despite being mortal enemies who wrestled one another later that night. How…how could this be?

In '95, I was one of the 10,000 100,000 who watched WCW's Bash at the Beach over in Huntington Beach. A pretty infamous show that featured Hogan v. Vader in the main event and several segments taped for the syndicated Baywatch program.

Then, in '97, as part of an internship through my advertising/marketing class, I helped promote a WCW Monday Nitro taping on the San Diego State campus. This surreal evening will never make its way to my resume, but I did meet Scott Hall and Rey Mysterio and got to go backstage before any of the talent could plow through a spread of stale sandwiches and soupy room temperature potato salad.

Finally, in May of '99, I went to a bizarre Sunday afternoon taping of Heat and Raw. This was at the height of the convoluted "Corporate Ministry" era and featured a Vince v. Shane match and Undertaker v. Big Show. The latter is memorable because Taker whacked Show with a "baseball bat", only to have half the bat break off and fly into the crowd, about two rows from me. A ring attendant quickly took away the evidence, but not before we all touched the plastic-encased Styrofoam "shrapnel".

For my fifth and, most likely, last live event (c'mon, people, I'm almost 34 for f*ck's sake), I was joined by three friends…two of whom have been drinking since noon.

If you just want the match results, I did a quick write-up for Widro over at IP.

If you want to hear about audience fights over projectile worms or a near race-riot in the crowd or which diva has the absolutely lumpiest ass or why so many small children literally left the show in tears or even more detail on the matches…you'll have to come back tonight for Part II.

Yep, I'm using wrestling to hook the audience.

What a strange and unfamiliar environment this is for me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

TBG Reviews: The Sports Illustrated 2007 Swimsuit Issue (Part I)

My Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue arrived last week. At 238 pages, it's thicker than most of the women inside. Anyone else remember when SI was once the most relevant sports medium in the world? While they still hold the crown for the written word, SI has been living off their legend for the last few decades.

The "Sportsman of the Year" award is as empty as an ESPY and serves mostly as a self-congratulatory way for SI's parent company, Time-Warner, to promote their own brands.

As for the swimsuit issue, SI has taken to piling the gimmicks on top of what was already a once-a-year money grab to begin with. "Swimsuit 2007" is subtitled "The Music Issue". Featuring Beyonce on the cover and models posing with Gnarls Barkley, Aerosmith, Kanye West, Kenny Chesney and Panic! At The Disco.

Has there ever been a running diary of a magazine?


Now, let's do this thang.

Cover: Beyonce is rockin' the cover shot and she's as delicious as ever. But, c'mon, SI. Her layout is billed as "The Dreamgirl as You've Never Seen Her". Doesn't she do these shoots about eight times a month? Is SI telling me that If I were to Google "Beyonce bathing suit" I'd come up with nothing? Nick'a please. Oh, and whoever thought that a little caked-on sand would look good on Beyonce's left elbow obviously mistook "authenticity" for "ashy".

Ad Break: "Old Spice: If your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist." That's seriously the slogan. Who is this supposed to appeal to: young adults who want to smell like their grampies or current grampies who wanna smell like 1945?

Pages 6,7: Marisa Miller gets us off (hee) and running with a two-page spread wearing what's described as an "iPod swimsuit by Apple". See, she's wearing nothing, but an iPod, people. Edgy. Jimmy Buffet's "Getting the Picture" appears on the display. 20 years ago, I'd have lost my mind to this. Today, I'm wondering why anyone would want a white iPod and worried that someone got sand or salt water in it.

Page 13: Ana Beatriz Barros is our early leader in the clubhouse. She's got that whole "ethnic lips/light eyes" combo plate thing, with a side of caramel complexion and honey brown hair. Brazil? Sao Paulo, perhaps? That ain't
crème de papaya in my pants.

Page 20: "Rookies '07" features the first time SI tits-n-ass appearances of several swimsuit models. First up is Ana Paula Araujo. Each pic includes such vitals as birthplace, current residence, where she was discovered and "at the top of her playlist", which I assume is each models five favorite songs, right now. FWIW, Araujo's got two from Nirvana and two from Elvis Presley. I'm not buying it. I'm sure her real response to that question was "I don't know American music. Who is popular? Say I like them."

Page 22: And, here's our first "first name only" contestant. "Irina" comes to us from Russia and if not for one small problem, she might've taken the lead from my girl Ana Beatriz. Y'see, she's kind of hairy. Not in a nude, 1975 Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug "hairy", but that light wispy kind. Forearms, torso, thighs…Jesus, Steve Carrell, why not stay for the whole wax, next time?

Page 24: Billed as "the first Israeli-born SI swimsuit model", Bar Refaeli still resides in Tel Aviv. She's hot enough to convert the Ku Klux Klan to her side, I tells ya. I can't, in good conscience, give her the crown until I see a few more shots, but Ana Beatriz has officially been put on notice.

Page 26: San Diego, represent! Our own Tori Praver (who looks a little like
Erika Eleniak at around the three-minute mark of her 15 minutes of fame) is putting my tiny adopted hometown on the map. Extra points for the inclusion of a Barrington Levy song in her "playlist". Sadly, it wasn't that "Bad Boy" joint he did with Shyne back in 2000. Andrew Cunanan-azz n*ggas…

Ad Break: Axe body spray ran several, consecutive odd-numbered pages of empty beach scenes with fake model names and swimsuit descriptions in the upper right. The payoff? All the missing bikinis are scattered around some dude's tent on the last page. I don't want to live in a world where showers and deodorant are no longer enough.

Page 28: Sorry, Selita Ebanks…while I appreciate that whole "half white-half black" thing; your eyes are just too far apart. Anyone else remember Jay Sherman's adoptive mother on The Critic? Yeah, it's like that.

Page 30: Houston's own Julie Henderson cites Jay-Z, Beyonce and Usher as her current favorites. Work it, white girl. But, she loses those points right back with the odd-looking top to her "swimsuit by Letarte (special order)". I'm sure I wore that shirt on my first day of first grade.

Page 32: It's back to Brazil for a look at 23-year-old Raica Oliveira. Her bio claims she "beat out 30,000 other girls" for first place at some model search when she was 15. It's a shame her little boy boobs stopped growing at 11. With huge hands and a head not unlike a hexagon, it's obvious that I no longer know beauty.

Page 37: "When They Were Rookies" is a collection of shots from some of the more memorable SI swimsuit models with a chart that lists even more names and the year that they made their SI debut. Has it really been 15 years since we first saw Tyra Banks? 20 for Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson? Great shots here of a topless Kathy Ireland (1984), an out-and-out A+ pic of Stacey Williams (1992) and all the areola that Heidi Klum can carry. And, then there's Christie Brinkley (1975) or Leif Garrett, I can't really tell.

Ad Break: Hey, it's a nude, 1975 Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug. No, seriously. It's an ad for DirecTV HD. If it wasn't for the petrified tongue and teeth of the bear, I wouldn't know where Burt's ass and back hair ended or began.

Friday, February 16, 2007

eBay = Cheap Reads

Why am I just now learning that eBay is the way to go for criminally inexpensive magazine subscriptions? In the last week, I've single-handedly increased the circulation statistics for five weekly and/or monthly reads:

ESPN - The Magazine: As far as sports magazines go, this one really isn't worth the recycled Sunday Circuit City insert ads it's printed on. The layout is cluttered, the photography is often grainy and the "writing" is comprised of half-assed concept columns like "Stu Scott's Two-Way" (rigged reader questions joined with Stu's one-eyed insight) and "Dan Patrick's Outtakes" (inane, innocuous interviews with random athletes). So, why am I now a subscriber for the next four years? First off, I paid all of $8.95 for the full 48 months, which comes out less than a dime per issue. Secondly, and infinitely more importantly, subscribers get access to ESPN Insider for free. Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer and that creepy little guy who fancies himself as the "fantasy expert"…? My lonely, late-at-nite net time just got a lot less porny.

Entertainment Weekly: One of the many, many things I do that drives Mrs. Bootleg up the wall (but, sadly, never out of my house or out of my life) is my predictable weekly perusal of good ol' EW…in the supermarket checkout line. I never buy it, since all the best parts are regurgitated right here and really…how many ambiguous analyses of Lost can one man stomach? And, as anyone who's read EW can tell you, the writing is targeted towards those sanctimonious twentysomethings who just stopped squealing for Teen People. $20 for two years? Sold. Perhaps Us Weekly can meet me in front of Aisle #6.

Maxim: True story. Sad story. I actually had to prepare Mrs. Bootleg for the impending arrival of the seminal men's magazine (non-nude division) in our mailbox: "Now, you're going to be seeing scantily-clad celebrities on the cover with what the kids call 'symmetrical cleavage'. Don't be afraid! These are women who've just gone untainted by childbirth and breast pumps." I'm genuinely unsure if men in their early 30s even need tips on how to remove a hickey (wink), but now I can be certain that I won't miss their once-every-twenty-months spotlight on "the colored celebrities"! September 2008 can't get here soon enough, Dihann Carroll!

The Source: Yeah, yeah, yeah…but, at least it's not their insecure younger sister/single mother, XXL. Hip Hop culture and I are no longer inseparable, but it's still my music of choice, even if some of today's audio lost me years ago. The writing, umm…"isn't awful", shall we say, even if the blatant liberal bent is worse than a thousand CNNs. Truth be told, by the time The Source hits the newsstands, it's instantly 45-60 days out-of-date. Then again, it's not like there's any place else to read what's on Kanye's mind or whether or not Nas is conflicted or just a hypocrite. I'm not sure why married fathers should care about these things, but we do.

XXL: Wow…backed myself into a corner on this one. Well, it was only $6.95 for 12 issues, so there's that. The writing is better than The Source which, admittedly, isn't saying much, but they're a lot less likely to give at least 3 ½ mics to f'n every album ever released. One of my favorite things about XXL is that they'll do "themes" from time to time, like their nearly cover-to-cover looks at Tupac death, Biggie's legacy, the West Coast rap renaissance (cough), etc. Plus, they're infamously in bed with Interscope Records, so if anyone's gonna get the exclusive interviews with notoriously media-shy entities like, oh say, Eminem or 50 Cent, it'll be here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hammer featuring Deion Sanders - TBG Looks Back

I remember this video.

I remember it on The Box. I remember it on BET. I remember it on MTV.

1994 was a difficult time for America as Shaquille O'Neal's guest verse with Fu-Schnickens on Can We Rock (What's Up Doc) gave every pro athlete FM aspirations. And, Deion Sanders was, believe it or not, the most logical choice to be next on the mic.


Credibility, of course, wasn't a requirement.

The above video is Straight to My Feet from the soundtrack to the movie Street Fighter. I can't begin to capture everything you should look for, but as y'all embark on this four minute and thirty-three second assault on your eyes and ears, try'n find the following:

1.) The Sumo wrestlers in the opening sequence who, to the untrained eye, look like those bovine broads that Nelly put in his early videos.

2.) The 2nd runners-up in the 1994 Jodeci look-a-like contest who appear to be singing the hook.

3.) Hammer's precious lil' "shimmy" in the man-made tunnel, just before he takes the stage.

4.) Deion's bandana-tied-in-a-bow accessory that everyone knows only Tupac was able to pull off and even on him, it looked like a tourniquet on a turd.

5.) The Jean-Claude Van Damme cameo. He chair-dances(!), mouths the hook and then dances(!!) some more. This one really deserves its own post. Can someone see if MGF's Mathan Erhardt could write something on the worst ever celebrity cameos in a video? This one's easily in the top three.

6.) Deion switches into a pair of leather pants and matching leather vest about half-way through. After Eddie Murphy in Raw and Delirious, I thought the Black man had moved past that.

7.) "Drop! Now, Lean!" (Trust me, you'll know when you see it.)

8.) The video quality isn't that great, but that sure looks like the guy who played "Juwanna Mann" in the sh*tty movie of the same sh*tty name. Check at about 2:10 into this.

9.) Jean-Claude dances some more. Someone, anyone, really should've stepped in at this point.

10.) "Prime to the Hammer, Hammer to the Prime!"

Why Do I Still Read The Source?

The Source Magazine bills itself as "The Bible of Hip-Hop Music, Culture & Politics". Presumably, "The Koran of Tacky Clothes, Trash CDs and Voluptuous Airbrushed Asses" was just too sacrilegious.

In the past, I stocked up on magazines whenever I was about to begin a business trip and needed some reading relief while up in the air. In fact, this Monday, I'll be making my first work-related travel of the New Year. Sure, I'm just driving up to Los Angeles for a day or two, but Snoop Dogg is on the cover of the latest issue and it's only been six months since my last run-in with a Source cover-felon.

The highlight of this issue is the 11th annual "Power 30" List, which ranks the most powerful and influential men and women in the Hip Hop industry.

As with any subjective "list" article, the entire point here is to manufacture debate, as opposed to issuing a hierarchal mandate. And, that's the best way I can explain the BET family of networks coming in at #1. BET?! The current home hospice for Jaime Foxx Show and Wayans Bros. reruns in the morning and kiddie countdown video shows in the evening is the most powerful entity in urban entertainment?

Oh, but BET just got the rights to watered-down repeats of The Wire…now, with 60% less "grit" and "gulliocity", I guess.

The rest of this post is devoted to three more names that are ranked way too high and a trio of their Power 30 contemporaries who are far too low:


Sean "Diddy" Combs: (Power 30 Ranking: #3)…Oh, come the f*ck on here, people. If this were still 1997, back when Puffy was living off of Biggie's own overrated opus, Life After Death, I might buy this. Since then, Diddy's Midas Touch has been rendered moot by embittered ex-Bad Boy artists, the spectacular failure of his Making the Band reality show beyond the voyeuristic car-wreck allure of it all and his "Vote or Die" mega-campaign that, most experts agree, had a negligible effect on the '04 elections. Diddy hitched his wagon to the Warner-Atlantic Music Group and owes Bad Boy's financial resurgence to Lyor Cohen and a bunch of other faces you'll never see in Harlem. Hey, just like Diddy!

Snoop Dogg: (Power 30 Ranking: #5)…Quick, name three songs off of Snoop's most recent album and I'll even spot you That's That with R. Kelly and Vato. He's done some commercials and is arguably one of the three most recognizable rappers in the world, but in 2007, Snoop's juice is through. His failure to capitalize on the apex of his fame in 1993-94 has relegated him to Hip Hop sideshow attraction who'll spit an "izzle dizzle" for a dollar. Despite being a follower (behind Dr. Dre, Master P and even Pharrell, most recently) for his entire career, Snoop's now hyping his leadership qualities as he pushes "new" group acts "Westurn Union" and "Warzone". And, wasn't the world just waiting for more from MC Eiht and Soopafly?

Ice Cube: (Power 30 Ranking: #12)…All you need to know about Cube's "influence" is found on page 57 of this issue. It's a full page ad that Cube bought in which he congratulates himself for "a great year". His last album, Laugh Now, Cry Later barely went gold, but since it was released independently, Cube did pocket most of the coin. Never mind that the album was overstuffed and out of touch with anyone's standard of urban relevancy. Cube hasn't made an interesting song since 1991. Meanwhile, his foray into family films speaks volumes about how far the ferocity has fallen.


MySpace: (Power 30 Ranking: #8)…I'm in my 30s, I'm married and I don't have any pictures of myself doing that squatting Negro pose in front of a car, a pit bull or a prison fence. For all intents and purposes, I'm nowhere near the demographic for anyone who'd wanna make me their "MySpace Friend". Yet, I still know (umm, "I've been told") that this cluttered mess of personal web pages is the wave of the music future. Diddy infamously manipulated MySpace to hype his sh*tty new release, while every major label seems to realize the benefits of free advertising to the MySpace masses.

Ludacris: (Power 30 Ranking: #24)…In Hollywood circles, Mos Def is the current "rapper-slash-actor" du jour. Critically, he generally gets a pass for his wooden, redundant performances because he's one of those harmless "conscious" rappers who've always appealed more to the media than the streets. Meanwhile, Ludacris is slowly building a more acclaimed resume on both sides of the "slash". Release Therapy is arguably Luda's finest album to date, while a well-received turn in Crash has kicked in the doors for this charismatic superstar-in-the-making. Plus, he hates Chingy. I mean, can't we all relate to that?

XM/Sirius Satellite Radio: (Power 30 Ranking: Not Ranked)…I've had XM in my car since last summer and I can't ever see myself going back to FM radio on a regular basis, again. For years, West Coast radio refused to get caught up in the Dirty South scene. Labels like No Limit and Cash Money couldn't get airplay out here, even as Make 'Em Say Uhh, Ain't My Fault and Ha were blowin' up everywhere else. Now, even Cali has been corrupted by the South's Casio beats and coon-rific lyrics. At least satellite radio gives listeners options. In addition, artists have used it to promote "listening parties" for album releases, while the relaxed rules on profanity allow for some, uh, "interesting" interviews and traffic updates.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Your Black History Month Minute

During my haircut, earlier today, I found out that my barbershop is right next door to an establishment that made San Diego headlines less than 24 hours ago.

"You know you're in a Black barbershop when…"

Friday, February 9, 2007

Meet My Links - East Coast Bias

One year ago today, I finished what would be the final Friday Music News Bootleg column. Towards the end of its three-year run, The Goodness was checking in at 10-12 pages in MS Word each week. Can't say I miss that aspect of being an African-American Internet Celebrity (copyright, Scoop Jackson), but it helped give me perspective on how hard some of my former co-writers worked.

This week's link covers the hardest working man on Inside Pulse. And, I'm not talking about…nah, I hit that target last week.

East Coast Bias

Synopsis: ECB is that all-too-rare independent internet sports column that's actually entertaining. Tom Daniels is ECB's intrepid author who also happens to do most of the heavy web-tech lifting behind the scenes at IP. East Coast Bias is what it is…a well-written and geographically narrow rant on all things New York, with more than an occasional look outside the five boroughs during those times when one of the teams in the city that never sleeps is taking an offseason nap. (Sweet dreams, Tiki!)

Positives: Indie internet sports columns are hard to pull off because writers either try to play it straight with a vanilla approach (which is done better, everyday, in any newspaper) or they try to be outspokenly obnoxious (which is done better, everyday, on's Page 2). Daniels is unique in that his unabashed biases keep him from straddling the fence, while his fandom isn't irrational, oversaturated or stale. When it all comes together, as it did for Tom in the aftermath of the NLCS, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better read.

Negatives: When Daniels isn't writing, he's most likely on the hamster wheel, doing everything he can to keep the infamous IP server up and running walking. Consequently, ECB can go a week or two without any new material. You're also not going to get much material on soccer, golf, hockey or any other sport where the white players still own the plantation. Fortunately, Daniels' self-hating reverse-racism rarely oozes through in his writing.

One Sentence Summary: Hilary Clinton, Mike Lupica and now, Tom Daniels…just one more reason to love New York!

Next Week: Deadspin

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jalen Cameron!'s time for my once-a-month rehash of an old encore column. This one's been in the microwave a few times over the years, but considering we're just 32 days away from "Machine Gun Funk" Mathan Erhardt's 9th annual "How All Them Bullets in Biggie Affected Me" piece, I think you'll all need a little Goodness to overwhelm the impending eulogy...again.

This one's from the February 13, 2004 column...

As last week's Bootleg was being posted, the wife was still in pretty serious condition. Her blood pressure was dangerously and consistently high, while the steroids she was being injected with (to strengthen the baby's lungs) had given her head, quite literally, the circumference of Barry Bonds' and Sammy Sosa's noggins put together. I'm serious…when I saw her on the night of February 6, her eyes were nearly swollen shut. I wanted to call Linus and tell him I had found The Great Pumpkin.

The next day (Saturday), I was leaving the barbershop and called the wife to let her know that I was on my way over.

"They want to deliver the baby today.", she said.

I powered up the Saturn and almost managed to get that tinfoil rickshaw up to 40 mph, as I arrived at the hospital at 11:30 AM. Mrs. Bootleg's room was filled with doctors, nurses and specialists who were all speaking the medical equivalent of whatever Lil' Jon & The Eastside Boyz call English.

Picture, if you will, a six foot tall, 185 pound brutha in XXL jeans, Eddie Bauer long-sleeved shirt and a pair of bulky Lugz boots. Now, add a fluffy powder blue shower cap, a delivery-room "jumpsuit" to cover my clothes and some medical "shoe covers".

I looked like a thug mushroom.

They ushered me into the delivery room, where the wife was being prepped for a C-section. Fortunately, I was kept away from the "business side" of the curtain and could only see Mrs. Bootleg's face and shoulders. I casually glanced down to the floor just in time to see a pool of blood forming on the other side. The delivering nurse apparently thought I was passing out, so she (yes, she) punched me in the shoulder and asked if I was all right.

I'm tellin' ya…that wildebeest hit me like Bald Bull. I wasn't passing out, but if she had landed on my chin, I would've been.

Since this was my first rodeo, I was prepared for a long, drawn out delivery. I tried to find some empty words of comfort to calm my wife down, but it appeared the drugs had already beaten me to it. She looked vacantly at me as I rambled on about nothing in particular (Who says my writing philosophy ain't portable?)

Mere minutes after I entered the room, the doctors on the other side of the curtain exclaimed, "There he is!" I heard a few brief, raspy baby yelps from the other side…and totally lost it. Man, I had one of those nasty runny nose, inconsolable, slobbering kind of crying jags that are usually only seen when ABC gets those great close-up shots of the losers in the Little League World Series Championship game.

On Saturday, February 7th at 1:22 PM, my son, Jalen Henderson Cameron, was born.


As in future Hall of Famer and longtime Oakland Athletic Rickey Henderson?

You bet'cha!

The Vitals
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
Length: 16 inches
Arrival: 9 weeks premature

Fun Facts: He looks exactly like me and I'm already dreading the "talk", where I have to explain the other kids' taunts of "canned ham head" to him…He's got the longest arms n' legs I've ever seen, like a Black version of former cartoon hero Plastic Baby…. He arrived exactly three weeks before the baby shower in his honor…Amazingly, he's breathing on his own and has a strong, healthy heart.

It's been almost a week and mother and child are doing great. Mrs. Bootleg is still very sore from her Caesarian, which I'm told is not nearly as delicious as the salads of the same name (ooh, especially when you get it with blackened chicken on top). The wife should be home as you read this, while Jalen will continue to live in the ICU for six to eight more weeks.

He's in great hands with the hospital staff, though, and I'm counting down the days until I'm changing a diaper with one hand and typing up The Goodness with the other.

Pray that I remember which hand is which.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Playoff Pickery - Super Bowl XLI

When last we met on the ol' prognostication stage, I was telling y'all that the Pats would beat the Colts and the Saints would bring down the Bears.

As if that wasn't retroactively embarrassing enough, I typed the following words with regards to the NFC Championship Game:

For the record, I wouldn't (bet on) this game with Mrs. Bootleg's bank account.

Well, after raking in the cake during the NFL's Divisional Playoffs, I did bet some of my excess booty on the Saints and the miniscule point spread. Right around the time Reggie Bush was going all 2 Cold Scorpio into the end zone, I kinda knew that I wouldn't be seeing any additional loot.

Do they teach "don't incite the home team/crowd" at USC?

Couldn't the co-ed who handled Bush's homework and took his tests pass this info along?

Still, on the plus side, these playoffs have given America the antics of Reggie Bush and sour grapes from LaDanian Tomlinson. This ensures that Black people's current third place standing on white folks' "We Hate That Race" rankings won't last much longer. We're movin' on up, so the current numbers one and two (Mexicans and "anyone that looks like a terrorist", respectively) better watch out!

As always, the following predictions are for entertainment purposes only (home team in CAPS):

Outright: 7-3 vs. The Spread: 4-6

CHICAGO BEARS (+7) vs. Indianapolis Colts

Yeah, I know…neutral field…but, the Bears will be wearing their home jerseys. This one won't be the "free money" that I guaranteed everyone on the Bears-Seahawks divisional game, but it's pretty damn close.

The Colts are here because the Chiefs' Herm Edwards continued to run Larry Johnson against an eight-man front long after it was obvious that it wasn't working.

The Colts are here because the Ravens' Steve McNair is a shell of the active, multi-faceted weapon that he was when he broke the NFL's color barrier in 19-dickety-two.

The Colts are here because you don't appreciate the gritty underdoggedness of the New England Patriots. You have no code, you have no honor and God was watching (TM, Bill Simmons).

A case could be made that the Colts were only the 4th best team in the AFC this season. The Chargers, Patriots and Ravens aren't playing today because all three beat themselves last month.

Meanwhile, the Bears have the ubiquitous "nobody respects us" card, which has no business working above Pop Warner, but damned if these zillion-dollar, groupie-f*cking superstar athletes don't actually need bulletin-board fodder to get up for a game.

I believe it was m'man Tom Daniels over at East Coast Bias who perfectly explained Peyton Manning's aversion to getting hit. The Bears D will pressure him into mistakes all game long, while Chicago's serviceable offense should score enough to make that seven-point spread, meaningless.

It hurts my heart to go against Tony Dungy, as us light-skinned bruthas with pencil-thin mustaches should stick together (shout out to Stoney Jackson!) But, the Bears won't be beat.

Final Score: Bears 22, Colts 17