Posted by Barrie on Friday, 31 July 2009

Sir Bobby Robson - A Footballing Gentleman

Just 5 days ago, England beat Germany in a charity game at St James' Park for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. The footballing legend was given a great ovation by the 33,000 strong crowd and honoured with a UEFA lifetime achievement award before kickoff.

Sir Bobby Robson was one of the most-loved English football faces in the world, down to his success and personality. The County Durham-born former Fulham and West Brom player was known for his love of the game and his respectful and gentlemanly attitude that was always on show.

As a manager, he made a name for himself with Ipswich Town, who he joined in 1969, with whom he turned into a regular top 6 side, include twice runners up in the then First Division (now the Premier League), winning the 1978 FA Cup final (1-0 over Arsenal) and 1981 UEFA Cup 5-4 over AZ Alkmaar). Ipswich Town paid tribute to Robson's success in 2002 when they unveiled a lifesize statue of him outside their Portman Road ground.

Robson left Ipswich for England in the summer of 1982 after their second round World Cup exit. Failing to qualify for the 1984 European Championships, Robson offered his resignation in favour of Brian Clough which was turned down by the FA. His reign would last 8 more years, which would see his England side defeated by Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter finals with the aid of Diego Maradona's hand, finishing bottom of their group in Euro 88, and then their infamous 1990 World Cup semi final penalty shootout defeat to West Germany. This effort means Robson has taken England the closest to a World Cup final since 1966.

Following his long reign as England manager, Robson enjoyed success on the continent, winning trophies with PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto and Barcelona, whilst also having a short spell at Sporting Lisbon. Bobby Robson's last spell as manager came at Newcastle United, from 1999 to 2004, where he guided the team to to 3rd and 4th finishing positions; something the club never got close to doing after his departure in 2004.

Bobby Robson was a true honour to the game, and this has been shown in numerous awards presented to him outside of football, including a CBE and Knighthood for his services to football. No one had a bad word to say about Bobby's personality, and some top men in the footballing world have paid their tributes already:

"I mourn the passing of a great friend, a wonderful individual, a tremendous football man and somebody with passion and knowledge of the game that was unsurpassed." Sir Alex Ferguson

"It is difficult to accept such a person is no longer with us but he is immortal because he leaves in everybody who knows him a mark of his personality. A great coach but, more than that, a great person" Jose Mourinho (Robson's interpretor at Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and Barcelona)

"He will be sadly missed by everyone, not just by people in the football world but from all walks of life" Alan Shearer (whom played under Robson at Newcastle)

"He was a huge inspiration to me as a player and he continued to be a mentor to me throughout my managerial career. Football has lost a legend and I have lost the man to whom I owe my career." George Burley (whom played under Robson at Ipswich)

Today has seen the loss of a legend in the football world.

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Posted by Barrie on Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The new Clough era at Derby County

Lots of football fans were criticising Derby County for hiring Nigel Clough in January after being embarrassed by Paul Jewell who lead them to 11 points in the Premier League the season before and towards relegation from the Championship last season. Clough's only previous managerial experience had been in the non-league, where he enjoyed a 10 year spell at Burton Albion, whom gained promotion from the conference to League One last season.

Following in his father's footsteps was always going to be impossible for Clough junior, but if we judge Nigel Clough for who he is and what he's done - and doing for Derby, he has the potential to make a great manager, even if everyone else wants to be ignorant and continue to compare him to his father.

Nigel Clough inherited Paul Jewell's crestfallen side when he took over in January, overlooking relegation for the second consecutive season. There was always expectation, from the fans and media following what success his father previously achieved at this club, and having been a Premier League side the season before. Jewell hadn't left him much to work with. A downbeat, unsettled squad with a losing mentality. He was aided with Derby's 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the Carling Cup semi finals before his first game in charge. He enjoyed initial success, winning 4 of his first 6 league games, with the team scoring 15 goals in those 4 victories, including a 3-1 victory over rivals Nottingham Forest, and a 3-2 victory over them in an FA Cup replay.

But when injuries picked up and a change of fortunes followed, Clough's side couldn't turn things around at the end of the season, winning just 2 of their final 11 games and playing badly in the process. Survival was ensured with their good run in February and the lack of points picked up by teams below them, but it came as a warning to Clough that this division isn't easy.

At the end of last season he stated he wanted to chop his squad by up to 17 players, and that started with moving on the likes of Andy Todd, Mile Sterjovski, Tyrone Mears and Emanuel Villa. Clough wants to bring stability to Derby County, something they haven't had in years with players moving in and out of the club freely over the past few seasons, much the same as their managers, with only George Burley completing 2 seasons since Jim Smith left in 2001; Nigel Clough being the 7th full time manager since then. He will need more than one summer to clear out all the deadwood in this side and create his own squad, but will Derby give him the time? Perhaps being Brian Clough's son will get him some extra time.

His signings haven't brought much optimism to Pride Park, mainly coming from the lower leagues. But on a low budget he's bringing in players who want to work for the club, something that has been missing in recent times. Whether they have the quality to survive in the Championship remains to be seen, but I think the fans will grow to appreciate them. The biggest signing Clough has made so far this off season has been the acquisition of Shaun Barker for £900,000 from Blackpool. If he and Miles Addison can form a strong partnership in the centre of the Rams defence, it will give them a solid base to build around.

Nigel Clough won't bring instant success like Billy Davies did for Derby. He spent 10 seasons in charge of Burton Albion, taking them from the Northern Premier League and aided them into the football league before leaving in January for a bigger challenge. His squad wasn't full of stars at that level either, but a hardworking team that bonded well. Something that Burnley and Hull City have had in this division in the past few seasons, and something Derby County didn't have under Paul Jewell. It will take more than a season to do so, but Clough has laid the first few bricks to make sure this team doesn't fall out of this division, whilst putting plans in shape to move up the table.

If given the time at Derby County, Nigel Clough can turn this club around. While they don't have the funds to bring in some stars, they have a manager who is capable of building a team to compete. Don't expect Derby to be near the top of the table this season, but expect them to be more organised and endeavoured this season, and perhaps break the losing mentality that has hit Pride Park for the last 2 seasons.

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 26 July 2009

Totesport offering £100 Free Bets until 30/09/2009

This month, Totesport, one of the biggest bookmaker names in horse racing have increased their free signup bonus from £25 to £100.

This offer is available until the 30th September 2009, so take advantage of their offer today before time runs out! Sign up today to receive 4x the bonus I received when I signed up a long time ago.

Be sure to check out the Premiership Tips Totesport Review, an online bookmaker recommended by the team. Synonomous with racing, they also provide the usual sports to bet on if you're not interested in the horses.

You can also checkout our list of Free Bets if you're interested in taking advantage of what each bookmaker has to offer for new members.

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Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 25 July 2009

Bolton keen on strengthening defence

Gary Megson completed his third and fourth signings for Bolton Wanderers this summer, bringing in defenders Zat Knight and Sam Ricketts from Aston Villa and Hull City respectively.

Megson has already brought in Sean Davis from Portsmouth who will be a strong addition to their midfield, and the season-long loan signing of Paul Robinson from West Bromwich Albion, whom played under the current Bolton manager previously.

Zat Knight is another 6 foot defender to add to the squad, having already got Danny Shittu who performed above expectations in a couple of the few games he got for Bolton last season. One would presume Knight will go above Shittu in Megson's head and leave the big Nigerian liability surplus to requirements. Both Ricketts and Robinson are full backs, which should please Wanderers fans with last season's left back Jlloyd Samuel being one of their biggest liabilities. I don't see Paul Robinson as being much of an improvement, with the former West Brom fullback being rash in challenges, suicidal in the penalty area and indecisive in clearances.

Sam Ricketts is a bargain if the rumoured fee of £2,000,000 is correct. The attacking right back impressed for Hull City last season and should add strength both in defence and attack on the Bolton's right hand side.

Sean Davis seems to be their most promising acqusition so far this summer. Nearly 30 years old, the centre midfielder has a wealth of Premier League experience with spells at Fulham, Tottenham and Portsmouth. He has excellent passing ability which should aid Bolton's midfield well.

Bolton, understandably start the season with short odds for relegation, although this season they are so far favoured to finish above 7 teams including Wigan, Portsmouth and Stoke.

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Posted by Barrie on Thursday, 23 July 2009

Sven and Manchester City

The surprising news story yesterday was when former Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksson was hired as director of football at... Notts County! The Nottingham-based League 2 side were recently taken over by Middle-East consortium Munto Finance and have signed the Swede on a 7-figure a year deal, rumoured to be around £2,000,000. Sven, always sniffing around where money can be found was sacked as Mexico coach in April this year after a 3-1 world cup qualifying defeat to Honduras, having won 1 of his last 7 competitive games.

The former England manager has a long list of responsibilities which includes transfer negotiations, scouting, health, fitness, training facilities, the youth academy, player development and establishing overseas links! Expect the financial input and Sven's presence to have a big impact on the club and the number of season ticket sales. His long-term assistant Tord Grip has joined him on board at the Magpies.

It's been a busy summer for his former club Manchester City, recently completing the big name signings of Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor recently, and today announcing a friendly match against Barcelona as they continue to build their reputation without having made headway in the Premier League last season.

Manchester City are showing promise this off-season, although Carlos Tevez has never been a regular scorer, Arsenal fans were desperate to sell Emmanuel Adebayor with his erratic finishing, Roque Santa Cruz with his lack of fitness, and the inconsistent Robinho need to settle quickly if they want to form a top strikeforce in the Premier League. Former strike target Samuel Eto'o has agreed a 5-year deal with Inter Milan today with Zlatan Ibrahimovic expected to go the other way.

Still on the trail to sign Chelsea captain John Terry in a bid to strengthen a vulnerable defence, Mark Hughes has a lot more rebuilding to be done before the opening game at Ewood Park on August 15th if he is to live up to their expectations of a top 4 push after all the money spent.

Make sure to follow Premiership Tips this season for another season of top tips.

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Update: Michael Bisping v Wanderlei Silva will not headline UFC 105

Update 17/08/09: Michael Bisping today confirmed via the blog on his website that he will not be fighting Wanderlei Silva at UFC 105 due to the Brazilian undergoing facial surgery.

Following from his knockout loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 100 last month, Michael Bisping will return to the Octagon in November at the MEN Arena in Manchester, England to face Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 105.

Bisping suffered only his 2nd loss of his career at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, first time by knockout, in devastating fashion and needs to bounce back with a victory, in front of his home crowd to seriously be considered for a title shot again. His opponent, Wanderlei Silva, many say is coming to the end of his career, and are backed up by his recent results, losing 3 of his last UFC fights, and 5/6 fights in MMA competition. Silva made his name in PRIDE Fighting Championships from 1999, which included two victories over Rampage Jackson, but hasn't had much luck in the UFC, winning just 2 of his 7 fights. His popularity, due to his exciting fights has helped him stay on the UFC roster, but he really can't afford to lose this one.

No other fights have been announced as of yet, but British Ultimate Fighter winners James Wilks and Ross Pearson are expected to be on the card.

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 12 July 2009

Michael Bisping KO'd by Dan Henderson at UFC 100

The British fighter and public's dream of Michael Bisping getting a shot at Anderson Silva's UFC Middleweight title vanished last night (4am this morning GMT) as he took a devastating knock out shot from Dan Henderson in round 2, a shot that will go in the top list of UFC knockouts for year's to come.

The Brit looked nervous before the fight and never got settled; not landing any punishing shots to the 38-year old American he competed with on this year's Ultimate Fighter. The knockout looked like it was coming in round 2 with Henderson coming close on more than one occasion before finally landing the killer blow. He even followed it up with a cheap shot to Bisping, who was out before he hit the mat. Michael had been inexplicably circling onto Hendo's deadly right hand during the second round, against the instructions of his camp and fell right into the devasting shot that earned the American knock out of the night honours and a $100,000 bonus.

Bisping and Henderson's rivally began earlier this year in the UFC's reality TV show and Bisping had been doing a lot of trash-talking before this match that he won't be able to live down (although he was correct when he said he wouldn't let Hendo take him down). Henderson said the cheap shot was to "shut him up" as he came across very unsporting in the post-match interview, although Bisping didn't help his own cause by leaving the ring with no grattitude.

Where does Michael Bisping go now? With Dan Henderson hoping to get a rematch with Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title at the end of this year, Michael Bisping is a long way off a title shot he'll probably never get now. He's got to work his way up the rankings again, and at 30 he still has plenty of time to do so. I imagine his next fight will be when the UFC comes around to the UK again, but he's going to have to pull a brave face every time he's infront of the camera for the next few months following this defeat. Don't be surprised to see him come back stronger though, there's no harm in losing to one of the best in your division and I'm sure Bisping will learn and improve from this. He's still young and has plenty of time to work his way back up the ladder. Perhaps a match with Alan Belcher could be on the cards for his next match, having lost last night also.

Michael Bisping has represented Britain well in the UFC, with his record now down to 7-2, with both defeats to former Champions, which includes victories over American's Josh Haynes in the final of the Ultimate Fighter season 3 (when they laughed at a Brit fighting), Charles McCarthy (who had been trash-talking prior to the match, and suffered a broken arm for his troubles), and Chris Leben by unanimous decision after most of the American public wrote Bisping's chances off beforehand. He'll be back, but not as loud next time...

UFC 100 also saw Georges St Pierre's dominance in a unanimous decision victory after five rounds with "The Pitbull" Thiago Alves, with several takedowns that helped he control the match and defending his Welterweight title. After the fight, when asked about a match with Anderson Silva, he did not say "no", but would need time to get to the right weight level where the two could meet. And Brock Lesnar destroyed Frank Mir in his rematch, winning by TKO in round 2 and rearranging Frank Mir's face in the process. The Heavyweight champion was very cheeky in his post match interview, having the following to say whilst beeing jeered by the sell out crowd:

"Frank Mir had a horseshoe up his ass, I told him that a year ago. But I pulled that son of a bitch out and I beat him over the head with it!"
"I'm gonna go home tonight. I'm gonna drink a Coors light. It's a Coors light because Bud light don't pay me anything."
"And I'm gonna sit down with my friends and family and hell, I may even get on top of my wife tonight!"

Frank Mir was gratious in defeat after all the trash-talking he gave beforehand and was quick to praise his opponent, who had turned his back on him at the beginning of the fight when asked to "touch gloves", and also taunted the former Heavyweight champion after winning the fight. Brock Lesnar is the real deal and looks set to dominate the UFC Heavyweight division.

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Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 11 July 2009

Chuck Liddell enters UFC Hall of Fame

Yesterday, UFC legend Chuck Liddell was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame by Dana White, the day before UFC 100 is set to rock the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Liddell was a pioneer in the mixed martial arts sport, and paved the way for some of today's stars who are now watched around the world by millions. In the induction video on UFC.com, Dana White introduces Chuck by telling us about how they spent many days on the road together helping to promote the UFC and what a great tribute he has been to the company and sport.

Chuck Liddell was not only great at helping to promote the sport outside of the octagon, but the excitement and entertainment he brought inside the cage is what really helped the sport grow. Classic battles with Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture amongst many others only increased his popularity where he is seen as an icon today, and being a member of the Hall of Fame is the least this guy deserves.

A former Light-Heavyweight champion, Chuck's final few matches in the UFC brought a sad ending to his career, losing 4 of his last 5, with the last a first round knockout to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, it seems Dana White made the decision to retire Chuck Liddell for his own safety and reputation.

Also entered into the Hall of Fame, was Charles "Mask" Lewis, the co-founder of Tapout clothing, who was lost in a car crash in March earlier this year. Dana pays tribute to him on UFC.com.

The UFC Hall of Fame opened in November 2003, for UFC45, where Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock became the first inductees. Since then, Dan Severn, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman have also been introduced.

The historic UFC 100 starts at 3am GMT, and is live on Sky Channel 433 and UFC.com, free for UK viewers, which includes Michael Bisping going against Dan Henderson, plus Brock Lesnar defending his UFC Heavyweight title against Frank Mir in the main event.

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Posted by Barrie on Thursday, 9 July 2009

NFL says no to in-game Tweeting

After Chad-formerly-Johnson-Ochocinco recently expressed his desire to post twitter updates during NFL games, fans will be disappointed to find out that the NFL has refused to allow this to happen.

NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello told NBC:
"We already have a rule that prohibits the use of cell phones or other handheld devices in the bench area during games."

Fans who were wanting to see some bragging after a touchdown, or Chad's frustration on Twitter will have to do without.

Although Mr Ochocinco has been fined many a time for his celebration antics in the past, don't be surprised to see him write a tweet after scoring a touchdown this season in exchange for a fine (perhaps a guinness world record and lots of tweeting for the "most expensive tweet" too ;) ).

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Posted by Barrie on Tuesday, 7 July 2009

UFC To Make It A Century This Weekend

This is my first blog on the UFC, so please go easy on me.

I'm a big fan of the UFC, and went to their last event, number 99 last month in Cologne, Germany. A UFC event is something unique and special, some 5 hour event with a dozen fight is well-worth the ticket price. We saw one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history when Stefan Struve's skull was smashed open by Denis Stojnic in one of the preliminary fights (apologies for the poor photo quality), potentially a future champion in Cain Velasquez, a former Middleweight champion (Rich Franklin) and one of the greatest entertainers to ever step inside the Octagon, Wanderlei Silva, in what was a great night.

Britain's Michael Bisping was also in attendance and was signing autographs at the weigh-ins the day before. This man has put mixed martial arts and UFC on the radar over here in my opinion. He works tirelessly promoting the UFC, and the most recent Ultimate Fighter series helped two more Brits win UFC contracts, when Ross Pearson and James Wilks won the series. Hopefully this coming Saturday night (or Sunday morning!) Michael Bisping will complete the hatrick and defeat Dan Henderson at UFC 100.

Henderson will give him a tough fight, but it's winnable for Bisping. And should he win, then would come the big one, as Bisping would go on to face Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title in November, rumoured to be in Manchester. If it does go ahead in Manchester, regardless of Bisping fight for the title or not, I will sure be heading up there for the weekend!

The UFC has come along way since day 1, back in 1993 and the dark times in the late 90's, before Dana White and co took over at the beginning of this millennium and transitioned it into the $1 billion business that it is today. White still claims it will be the biggest sport within the next decade, and they are well-renowned for calling it the "fastest-growing sport", although in fairness, every other sport is already established, so there isn't much competition in that category. This weekend will see UFC's 100th event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, an historic event to put it lightly. A big card has been announced and UFC fans worldwide are looking forward to this event.

Although, with Setanta's demise, UFC is now without a TV deal in the UK, and despite only being 4 days away from the biggest show in their history have yet to announce which TV channel will be showing it this weekend! Fortunately there are quite a few interested. I can see ESPN getting it, which is the last of the channels I'd like to see it on over here. Sky Sports would be the best in terms of growing the popularity of it over here, whilst Virgin 1 and Bravo have their loyal viewers already from TUF and British MMA shows. Five wouldn't do too badly, having done great NFL coverage in this country. Great as in having Mike Carlson on their show.

Incase you don't already know the main card, I'll stick it in anyway:

Heavyweight Championship bout: (champion) Brock Lesnar vs. (interim champion) Frank Mir
Welterweight Championship bout: (champion) Georges St-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves
Welterweight bout: Jon Fitch vs. Paulo Thiago
Middleweight bout: Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
Middleweight bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alan Belcher

Predictions? Wherever it is shown, enjoy the show!

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 5 July 2009

Roger Federer wears down Andy Roddick to win his 15th Grand Slam

With previous champions and greats onlooking, including Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and the infamous Pete Sampras, both players came out with some big serving, and there were no diffult holds in the first 10 games. Then came game 11, where Andy Roddick had to save 4 break points, with help of some big serving for a 6-5 lead. With the first set heading towards a tie break, Andy Roddick came up with a break, and set point out of nowhere, and Federer couldn't save it when his backhand drifted into tramline, to hand the American the first set, 7-5.

The second set was much the same as most of the first set, with both players holding all 6 of their service games with ease and the anticipated tie break arrived. Roger Federer to this point still hadn't looked fully settled down into his game and it showed when Andy Roddick stormed into a 6-2 lead, and four set points. That's when Federer's class came through, as well as the nerves of Andy Roddick as he missed a volley at 6-5, smashing it wildly off the court. Federer took the tie break 8-6 and tied the match up.

Anyone could have easily expected Andy Roddick to roll over here, but he battled on and held his serve, although not getting close to breaking Federer in the 3rd set. The only break point in this set came in game 6, against the Roddick serve, but that was followed up by some big serves and saved. Tie break number 2 came, and it was Roger Federer who raced out into a big lead in this one. Roddick saved two set points from 6-3, but Federer took his final one with help of a big serve out wide that left the whole court open on the follow up; 7-5 and 2 sets to 1.

A few errors crept into Federer's game at the beginning of the 4th set, and was broken on his second service game, after saving the first break point with an ace, he coudl only hit the bottom of the net as he stretched for a volley. No break points followed and Roddick even battled back from 0-30 when serving for the set, to win the fouth set 6-3.

Wanting to get off to a quick start in the final set, Roger Federer held his opening service game to 15, and then earned a sixth set point on a great backhand, with help of clipping the net. Roddick was able to save it again however, and the match was staying with serve in the final set. With Wimbledon not using tie breaks in the final set and with both service games being impeccable, it wasn't until game 17 until we had two break points, in favour of Andy Roddick. Two big serves saved Roger Federer and he went on to win that game and take a 9-8 lead. As the final set dragged on, with both players holding onto their serves, Federer was holding with more ease and winning points on Roddick's. The break looked like it was coming, and then Roddick would serve up a big serve to get himself out of trouble. His movement was fading whilst Federer still had top energy levels, and in game 30, Roger Federer came up with the goods, breaking the American who's final shot was scuppered into the air and long, for Roger Federer to become the Wimbledon Champion for the 6th time, and winning the most Grand Slam titles in history, now having won 15, and returns to world number 1. Federer only broke serve once in the whole match, but it was the most important one. The final score 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14.

It goes without saying it was an epic final set, and both players had their chances in the match. Neither deserved to lose, but congratulations to Roger Federer on his success, and credit to Andy Roddick for his performance. Tennis legend, Pete Sampras conceded after the match that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player in history.

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RIP Steve McNair

Last night (GMT), News Channel 5 in Nashville, Tennessee broke the news of the death of former Tennessee Titans legend, Steve McNair.

The quarterback, who famously lead the Tennessee Titans to within one yard of forcing overtime in SuperBowl XXXIV, was found dead on Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. A 20-year old female friend, Sahel Kazemi was also found dead at the scene, with a single gunshot wound to the head in a residence Steve McNair was renting.

For me, being a Tennessee Titans fan, McNair was my favourite player when I first got into the sport. He played with his heart and with unbelivable toughness. Whilst he will be remembered most for the Titans only SuperBowl appearance, and the dramatic ending, no one should overlook what he done in 2002, when he lead the Titans on a 6-game winning streak, and 10 of their last 11 regular season games after a disappointing start, most of this whilst being unable to practice because his body was so bruised and beaten, before coming up short against the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game. Former teammate at both Tennessee and Baltimore, Derrick Mason paid his respects:

"On the field, there isn't player that was as tough as him, especially at the quarterback position". "What I have seen him play through on the field, and what he dealt with during the week to get ready for a game, I have never known a better teammate."

Whilst it is too early for police to announce what has happened, an autopsy is scheduled for today. His name and number were on the first NFL shirt I ever got. It's not everyday one of your heroes dies and I am finding it to be a bitter pill to swallow.

Former Titans and Ravens teammate Samari Rolle was quoted yesterday as saying:
"If you were going to draw a football player, the physical part, the mental part, everything about being a professional, he is your guy". "I can't even wrap my arms around it. It is a sad, sad day. The world lost a great man today."

Steve McNair's NFL career began in 1995 as the 3rd overall draft pick by the then Houston Oilers. He spent 11 seasons with the Tennessee Titans franchise (under 3 names), starting 131 games, throwing 156 touchdowns, rushing for another 36, leading the team to 4 playoff berths, 2 Championship games and 1 Superbowl. He was also the league's co-MVP in 2003. He was married and leaves behind 4 children.

Former teammate and Titans great, Eddie George had this to say:
"To see what he has been able to accomplish in his lifetime and just knowing Steve, he was a great father to his sons and his children and just a pillar in the community. From the Titans and everyone else we lost a great human being that brought so much joy to us."

To me, he's an NFL great and as a Titans fan, he's a legend. A sad loss to the sport and the world, a person who gave so much back to the community. A man with so much heart, he will be greatly missed. He was only 36.

Vic Carucci paid his tribues on NFL.com

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Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 4 July 2009

Serena Williams ends Venus' run at Wimbledon by winning Championship

Serena Williams today defeated her older sister to win her 3rd Wimbledon title, 7-6 6-2.

Serena came into this match as the underdog after a indifferent semi final results for each sister, having been the favourite for this tournament all the way throughout the tournament prior to Thursday's games.

The match got off to a slow start, with a few sloppy serves from Venus Williams in the opening service game which started with a double fault on the opening point. Despite struggling to get many first serves in, she held onto the opening game. And that was to be the story of the first set, with the only break points coming until game 8 on Serena's serve, where Venus took a 15-40 lead. She managed to save them, first thanks to an unreturnable serve and the second when Venus hit a shot long with an open court that really should have been the first break, and perhaps a different outcome to this match. Two faces followed and we were at 4-4. Both players held their next two service games to take the opening set to a tie break, where a few errors from Venus and some fantastic winners from Serena saw her take the tie break 7-3 with a beautiful lobbed winner to seal the deal. Venus had previously won 34 straight sets in this competition.

The opening 5 games of second set were much like the first set, with both players holding their servces comfortable. That changed in game 6, where Venus struggled to get many first serves in assisted Serena getting her first break point of the match, and Venus handed the game to her on a plate with a double fault. Serena followed that up by holding to love and a 5-2 lead. Venus looked drained of confidence at this point, and it showed in her game, as errors in her final service game handed Serena championship points. Some great rallies in this final game and Venus desperately tried to keep the match alive, but it was all over when she netted and Serena Williams became the 2009 Wimbledon Women's Champion.

From saving match point in her semi final, and the dominance before, Serena has been the best player in this championship, and was the better of the two sisters today, with Venus unable to cope with her serve and a lot of powerful groundstrokes. A match that saw no slice shots, showed the advantage of power in the women's game.

Serena remains world number 2 but has closed the gap between her and Dinara Safina now. This is Serena Williams' 3rd Wimbledon title and her 11th Grand Slam title.

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