2012 Illinois Olympians

(Chris Helgren/Reuters)

After months of hype the 2012 London Summer Olympics are finally here! While I was reading the Red Eye today during my morning commute, I came across the page listing out the Illinois Olympians participating in London. And you thought your High School/College war stories were brag worthy – ha!

Here are the list of our home-state Olympians repping the IL:

Lance Brooks
Sex : Male
Competing in Athletics
Event / position / class : Discus Throw
Age : 28
From : Springfield

Kelci Bryant
Sex : Female
Competing in Diving
Event / position / class : 3m synchro
Age : 23
From : Chatham

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Ellis Coleman
Sex : Male
Competing in Wrestling
Event / position / class : Greco-Roman 60kg
Age : 20
From : Oak Park

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Anthony Davis
Sex : Male
Competing in Basketball
Event / position / class : Forward
Age : 19
From : Chicago

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images South America

Conor Dwyer
Sex : Male
Competing in Swimming
Event / position / class : 400m free;800m free relay
Age : 23
From : Winnetka

Matt Grevers
Sex : Male
Competing in Swimming
Event / position / class : 100m back; 400m free relay
Age : 27
From : Lake Forest

Courtesy of Getty Images

Andre Iguodala
Sex : Male
Competing in Basketball
Event / position / class : Guard/Forward
Age : 28
From : Springfield

(Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE)

Evan Jager
Sex : Male
Competing in Athletics
Event / position / class : 3,000m steeplechase
Age : 23
From : Algonquin

(Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images Europe

Amy LePeilbet
Sex : Female
Competing in Soccer
Event / position / class : Defenseman
Age : 30
From : Crystal Lake

(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Candace Parker
Sex : Female
Competing in Basketball
Event / position / class : Forward/Center/Guard
Age : 26
From : Naperville

Sean Rooney
Sex : Male
Competing in Volleyball
Event / position / class : Outside Hitter
Age : 29
From : Wheaton

Bob Willis
Sex : Male
Competing in Sailing
Event / position / class : Men’s Windsurf
Age : 25
From : Chicago

It’s crazy to think we could have potentially grown-up or met one of these Olympians at a local grocery store or park at some point in our lives (I would say local bar, but Olympians are too busy being awesome to consume alcohol). Let’s make sure to tune in and cheer for our home-state heroes! Opening ceremonies start tonight at 9 PM London time, but no live showing of the event will be available for viewers in the United States. Instead, NBC is showing a tape-delayed version in the U.S. at 7:00 PM ET – 6 PM CT :-).

Forbes Announces Most Valuable Sports Teams

Forbes released it’s top 50 most valuable sports teams. The graphic above is worth pondering for a moment or at least enjoying it’s fun color scheme. Manchester United came in at number one, Real Madrid ranked number two, but even more intriguing is that ALL 32 NFL franchises made the list.

Here’s a link to for the full image: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/07/21/graphic-the-richest-teams-in-the-world/

NCAA Slams Penn State with Sanctions

Penn State’s athletic program got served. I think it’s safe to say the Nittany Lions football program may never recover from the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal – emotionally or financially. Two weeks ago coach Joe Paterno and other top university officials were found guilty of concealing child sex abuse allegations against a retired assistant coach for years to avoid bad publicity. Well the “bad publicity” is much more severe now. The NCAA’s President Mark Emmert spoke at a scheduled press conference early this morning to deliver Penn State’s punishment.

Big Ten Network reported the NCAA’s sanctions as follows:

* Four-year bowl ban
* Reduction of 10 initial scholarships + 20 total scholarships each year for four years.
* $60 million fine
* All wins vacated from 1998-2011 (112 wins to be exact)
* All current PSU players can transfer immediately
* The athletic department will also serve a five-year probation period.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said that no punishment could change or mitigate the damage done by Sandusky to children, but “the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics,” reported the Washington Post. 

If you didn’t see Sunday, the school removed the statue of Paterno from the campus outside the football stadium as well. In less than a year, Paterno’s entire legacy has been washed and a man held with utmost respect in the NCAA for so many decades will forever be tarnished.

The punishment is steep, but well deserved. There is no excuse possible for covering up a colleague’s horrible crimes. The moral of the story is: if you find your friend committing a heinous crime, turn them in because their stupidity isn’t worth disgracing an entire organization or your own reputation. Bad people need to be held responsible for their wrong doings.

USA Puts Beat Down on Great Britain in Olympic Exhibition

USA! Watching the highlights from the USA exhibition game against Great Britain is like watching the best of the 2012 NBA finals all on one team. It was also a preview of what we’ll see in the 2013 season with rookie Anthony Davis (or as I like to call him “big brow”) throwing down some dunks. You could describe it as kind of…magical? The coaches aren’t completely set on their lineups just yet, but it’s absolutely ridiculous how talented these NBA players are. Shout-out to Chicago Bull Luol Deng who had 25 points for Great Britain. The Americans won 118-78 – BRING ON THE GOLD MEDAL!

Rough Times: Jay Cutty Sings Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I can’t say I’m surprised, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gave one of the most pathetic renditions of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning stretch at the Cubs game this weekend. Harry Caray was rolling over in his grave for sure.

I understand not everyone loves singing, but this isn’t a lyrical masterpiece it’s a song that’s meant to be sung at the top of your lungs to the rowdy Cubs crowd at historic Wrigley Field. Cutler’s version is painful to say the least, especially for someone who has been on a major image enhancement kick this off-season. Cutty – we WANT to like you. You are the quarterback of our beloved Bears – but sometimes you just make it so hard. Have a few drinks to loosen yourself up and show a little emotion buddy.

FINALLY: Matt Forte and Bears agree to 4-year deal

HALLELUJAH! After some seriously prolonged contract negotiations, the Chicago Bears and their Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte have finally agreed to terms on a 4-year deal worth approximately $32 million reported ESPN Chicago. Of course the Bears cut things close with Forte as they had a 3 PM deadline on Monday to avoid any franchise tag nastiness.

Back in March the Bears slapped Forte with their franchise tag and secured the young star would be in a Chicago uniform for the 2012 season – it didn’t really go over too well as Forte was looking for the lucrative deal former GM Jerry Angelo had promised. The one-year agreement would have paid Forte $7.7 million for this season — a $7.1 million raise from his 2011 salary. In the end, the franchise tag ended up being a handy negotiating tool for the running back as he secured about $8 million a year.

Forte signing his contract at Halas Hall

Forte finished his fourth season with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing – he would have had even higher numbers had he not sprained his MCL in December of 2011. Forte is now healthy and making the big bucks, it’s time for him to produce his best numbers yet.

The NFC is one of the most competitive conferences in the entire NFL and Chicago needed to make some serious offensive adjustments to compete with the rivaled Green Bay Packera and Detroit Lions.

In the off season, the Bears picked up some more offensive weapons and a team who souly relied on their defense finally has some key players to produce points offensively. Now, if we can just tighten up that offensive line, we may really have something here.

Here are the keys to this season’s offense:

  • Quarterback – Jay Cutler
  • Running Back – Matt Forte with Michael Bush as backup.
  • Wide Receiver –  Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester
  • Tight End – Kellen Davis (Mike Tice, the new offensive coordinator has a tendency to utilize his tight ends – which Mike Martz didn’t ever do).
The ongoing “Pay Forte” drama has been put to rest and now it’s time to focus on the resurgence of “Da Bears” and making things rain in the Central division. Let’s go!

Big Ten Mascots Break-it-down

Some of the Big Ten mascots put together their own rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe. The Buckeye’s Brutus and that Wisconsin Badger were really getting down. It looks like Purdue Pete, Michigan’s Wolverine and the Northwestern Wildcat missed the show-stoppin video shoot. Oh the busy life of a team mascot…