Warren Sapp Sacks Michael Strahan On Tampa Radio; Strahan Sacks Back On Twitter







Warren Sapp contends that in voting him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over Michael Strahan, voters chose "the menace" over "the media darling."

Warren Sapp contends that in voting him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over Michael Strahan, voters chose “the menace” over “the media darling.”

Last weekend, the 2013 enshrinees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame were announced. Among the fifteen finalists confirmed last month were Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp, an oddity in that two former defensive ends with sports media experience following their retirement – Fox Sports and NFL Network, respectively – had made the ballot in their first year of eligibility.

So when one of these made it in and one did not, Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner reminded us of the bitter feud these two players had when they were playing for the Giants and Buccaneers (Sapp was not active for the Raiders’ home loss to the Giants in 2005). It reached its peak when Strahan set the current single-season sack record in 2001, with a sack on Packers quarterback Brett Favre that Sapp referred to as “belly weak.”

Quoth Strahan the following summer: “Warren Sapp is a jackass… He’ll see me to my face and he’ll be nice, but Warren is a jackass.”

Four years later, the two crossed paths and appeared to have buried the hatchet.

That is until Wednesday morning, when Sapp recovered his hatchet and proceeded to take Strahan to the woodshed.

Appearing on “The Sports Page with Tom Jones and Rick Stroud” on Tampa Bay’s sports radio leader WDAE-AM, the Bucs’ flagship radio station, Sapp was asked if the thought had ever crossed his mind that he would be denied entry to Canton this year.

“Absolutely,” Sapp replied, before painting a vivid picture for the listeners.

“Say if I rewind this [to] Saturday, 12 o’clock, me and you sitting and I say, ‘You know, it breaks down, whatever, whatever, and then, you have Michael Strahan and me… The menace and the media darling’… Come on, madness or ‘Good Morning America’?”

“You know what, Warren,” co-host Tom Jones said, “I think it came down to ‘belly weak’. I think that was the difference.”

Well, what a difference a couple of days makes.

Strahan, who was made aware of Sapp’s comments about 48 hours after the fact, tweeted this to Sapp on Friday morning: “You never cease to amaze me! Enjoy your moment. You don’t need to take a shot at me to justify yourself to other people. #Class”

Several hours later, Sapp replied, “We [stopped] competing 5+ years ago! #AllTheBest”

Strahan: “I only competed against myself. Don’t let people make you get at me to justify your [Hall of Fame] selection. Enjoy it because [you] earned it.”

Sapp: “[You] got my [number!]”

Strahan: ‘You have my [number] too. I’m a grown man and handle myself like one. Respect me and I respect you!”

Sapp: “Tell us why you really mad, son?”

Strahan: “I congratulate you on the [Hall of Fame]. You were a [Hall of Fame] player, no doubt. Enjoy it, and hopefully, I will join [you] in Canton one day! Congrats.”

Both Sapp and Strahan had special careers, with a Super Bowl ring in their possession, to boot (okay, so Sapp lost his, boo hoo). My only reasoning for Sapp not being a first-ballot Hall of Famer was for his finger-pointing during the Bountygate issue with the Saints last year.

So with the Super Bowl taking place in East Rutherford, New Jersey next year, only a one-year wait for Strahan to Canton will be worth it.

By the way, among the possible finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014: Former head coach Tony Dungy, and former Chargers and Patriots safety Rodney Harrison – both of whom happen to be employees of NBC Sports. You think the Peacock Network isn’t going to go over the top in promoting the Hall of Fame announcement than Fox, the network that will be carrying that, as well as Super Bowl XLVIII? (And as if you needed to be reminded, Harrison was on the other end of that David Tyree catch in Super Bowl XLII, which helped the Giants defeat the Patriots. Yeah, I bet he’ll be sick of Super Bowl Media Week by Tuesday.)

Anyway, here’s the podcast of Warren Sapp’s appearance on WDAE-AM on February 6. And below are tweets as well as Twitter reaction by the likes of Chad Johnson.

(And for the record, Warren: Strahan is the co-host of a show called “Live!” – though it actually does follow “Good Morning America” on many television stations, so you were close.)

Keith Olbermann Will Appear On MLB Network As Guest Host

‘Tis the season: Keith Olbermann will be doing vacation relief during Thanksgiving week, guest hosting the “Hot Stove” program alongside Brian Kenny on MLB Network.

Back on March 30, the day Keith Olbermann was dismissed from what appeared to be the umpteenth television job in his long and storied career – the Al Gore-backed Current TV network – I argued why it would not only be a good fit for the former ESPN and Fox Sports personality to land at MLB Network – but it’s one of the few places left where he has yet to burn bridges (or in the case of ESPN, “Napalm” them).

And the fact that he already maintains a blog on the Major League Baseball blog network – titled “Baseball Nerd” (which was the source of a juicy Yankees rumor during the past postseason) – it’s basically a match made in, well, baseball nerddom.

On Friday morning, the day after the announcements of the American and National Leagues’ Most Valuable Players, MLB Network announced that Olbermann will be a guest host of their midday “Hot Stove” program on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving. He will be joined by another former ESPN alum, Brian Kenny. “Hot Stove” is usually anchored by another ex-ESPN-er, Harold Reynolds, along with Matt Vasgersian, who had previously toiled at Fox Sports as well as NBC.

As many familiar with Olbermann’s career already know, he was relieved of his duties at all three of the aforementioned networks.

Before appearing on “Hot Stove” on Friday morning via telephone, he appeared on in-studio panel discussions as recent as this past Thursday on “Clubhouse Confidential,” hosted by the aforementioned Brian Kenny.

Only time will tell if this guest host stint on Thanksgiving week is a precursor of something bigger down the line.

It’s not necessarily a flat out hire of Keith Olbermann, as I had speculated back when he was fired from his recent television gig at Current TV.

But it’s a start.

Of course, the question is whether or not he’ll stay out of Tony Petitti’s hair.

Morning Drive Plans Derailed For Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney

Former Giants running back Tiki Barber may be running back to broadcasting after fizzling out at NBC. New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman reports that he could be part of a new morning show on CBS Sports Radio Network, which launches January 2.

As the launch date for the CBS Sports Radio Network launches ever closer, there have been announcements for hosts of various dayparts on the network.

The biggest fish, of course, Jim Rome, was rumored to join the network in late August, and later confirmed by the network in late September. Other air talent named to be part of the new network include Doug Gottlieb (afternoons), Scott Ferrall (late evenings), and most recently, John Feinstein (late mornings).

Still, there is but one glaring omission on the network’s lineup: the all-important morning drive daypart.

For months now, I’ve been speculating that the recipient of that time slot on CBS Sports Radio Network would be “The Boomer & Carton Show,” currently broadcasting locally on WFAN/New York.

And while it’s clear that they’re aiming for a pairing of a well-known former football player and a longtime professional radio host to do wakeups at CBSSR, apparently, it may not be in the form of Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.

Check this out: According to the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman, CBS executives had hoped to pair Tiki Barber – former New York Giants running back, former NBC and NBC Sports personality, and former decent human being (he left his wife, pregnant with twins at the time, for an intern at NBC, with whom he recently tied the knot) – with Brandon Tierney, who had toiled at ESPN Radio’s New York outlet since its inception in 2001, and currently is heard in San Francisco in afternoon drive on KGMZ/”95.7 The Game”.

The pairing of a notable name in New York sports lore (Barber) with a Brooklyn native (Tierney) on CBS’ national network to go up against “Boomer and Carton” on WFAN is intriguing at best, in that it gives the impression that there might be an interest in this program in the New York market. Recently, CBS Radio announced the acquisition of 101.9 FM from Merlin Media, with the intention to simulcast WFAN/660 AM – perhaps as early as this Thursday, November 1 – on the FM dial. Meanwhile, CBS hasn’t given a timetable for the end of the AM/FM simulcast of WFAN; logically, it would end at the start of 2013, with AM 660 taking on the New York clearance of CBS Sports Radio Network. However, Cumulus Media – which will be heavily involved with CBS in the new sports radio venture – just purchased WFME/94.7 FM from Family Radio, a station that had long been speculated to be on the block ever since they applied for a change in their license from non-commercial to commercial. So if CBS Radio does indeed intend to keep WFAN on AM 660 past 2012, Cumulus could use the recently acquired 94.7 FM to clear CBS Sports Radio. (Ironically, WFME had been speculated by some, including this humble blogger, to be purchased by ESPN Radio for a migration of their own New York AM station to the FM band; it instead opted for 98.7 FM.)

Given how Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney have the same letters in their initials, I can only imagine what the name of the show would be titled. “TB and BT”? “BT and TB”? “Tiki and Tierney”? “T and T”?

Well, it looks like we’ll never know the answer to that question. Per Raissman, Entercom Communications, which operates “95.7 The Game,” refused to release Tierney from his contract, thus wiping out the concept for this show. Tierney, who had just made the inaugural top 100 sports radio hosts list according to Talkers Magazine, had actually extended his contract with Entercom this summer. Perhaps that was what led to Entercom’s denial of letting Tierney go so fast.

Yet as plans for “TB and BT” or “T and T” or whatever have now gone by the wayside, Raissman reports that Barber “is still a viable candidate” as the host of a program on CBS Sports Radio Network. Given the fact that they already had him in mind for morning drive, you’d have to think they’re going to preserve that plan and find a new partner for him.

Might I suggest a few possibilities: Buzz Bissinger. Known for authoring sports-oriented books including the popular “Friday Night Lights,” he currently hosts a radio show on CBS-owned WPHT in Philadelphia – which is not a sports radio station but a general news/talk station. But Tiki does have some experience in that realm: remember “The National Sweep”? Certainly, Bissinger shares the same “diversified interests” as Barber, and the two could discuss anything from Obama to Osi Umenyiora.

Dan Sileo is another possibility. I reported earlier about how the Miami-based sports radio host had been lunching with a Cumulus bigwig – and how it might lead to a potential program on CBSSR.

A dark horse to co-host a morning show with Barber would be Kevin Kiley, who currently co-hosts morning drive in Cleveland – on CBS’ “92.3 The Fan” – with longtime radio pal Chuck Booms. This, of course, would be on the count of Booms having another meltdown, leading to the ensuing cancellation of the Cleveland show.

And how’s this for a wild card: Frank Caliendo. A staple of Fox’s NFL pregame show for years, he has recently turned up at ESPN’s Sunday morning NFL “countdown” show. But the highly talented Caliendo is definitely someone you would want to hear in the morning. And paired with the cardboard personality that is Tiki Barber, it might be trainwreck radio gold, but we all know how we can’t help but look at train wrecks, don’t we? I can just picture the name of the new show: “Tiki And Frank.” I’m sure Tiki might like how that rolls off the tongue.

With nine weeks to go until CBS Sports Radio Network signs on January 2, you’d think they’d want all of the regular dayparts in place by Thanksgiving at the latest. I would expect an announcement on their new morning show by then.

And who knows, maybe Tiki Barber will indeed be heard in the morning hours.

Perhaps the graveyard shift would be most ideal for him.

And CBS, if you know what’s good for you, please do not let him anywhere near your television network.

NBC Brings Hines Ward Aboard

You can say Hines Ward is quite happy about his new gig as an NFL analyst for NBC. He'll start on "Football Night In America" on September 9, right before the team he retired from, the Pittsburgh Steelers, takes on the Denver Broncos.

After playing his entire NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hines Ward has been drafted by a new team: NBC.

Ward, the wide receiver who played for fourteen years in Pittsburgh before calling it a career in March, will be starting his retirement from football the way many notable NFL players do: by becoming an NFL analyst. He’ll serve in that capacity, and much more, as part of a new contract with NBC Sports.

In what is being described as a “multi-year agreement,” Ward will not only appear regularly on the network’s marquee NFL highlights program, “Football Night In America,” he will also get plenty of face time on NBC’s cable property, NBC Sports Network, serving as an analyst on a weekly college football program on Saturdays (what are the odds that it’ll be called “College Football Night In America”?), and show up on the nightly “NBC Sports Talk” program for several days during the week.

Ward’s appearance during NBC’s 76-hour Super Bowl XLVI pregame show this year (it was actually six hours, but the singing NBC actors made it seem like 76) was an apparent audition for a regular spot on NBC’s NFL team. “I am really excited,” said Ward in a statement released by NBC. “It’s not every day that you get the chance to work for a powerhouse like the NBC Sports Group.” [It’s also not every day that popular athletes, let alone regular people, randomly refer to NBC Sports Group.]

“It is a big honor for me and I am looking forward to making the most of this great opportunity.”

And a timely one at that: when Ward reports for duty on “Football Night” for the first time on September 9, it will be prior to kickoff of his old team squaring off against Peyton Manning and his new team, the Broncos. The Steelers are also scheduled to play division rivals on NBC in Weeks 7 and 11, with the latter week carrying the possibility of being flexed – but with Week 11 being Ravens/Steelers, if I were a betting person, I’d bank on that one airing on NBC as scheduled.

Ward follows in the footsteps of another beloved Steelers legend, Jerome Bettis. The running back also joined NBC as an analyst upon his retirement, and became a member of the initial “Football Night” cast of characters. However, after three years, NBC decided that “the Bus” stopped there, and did not renew their contract with Bettis. In fact, it was after the 2009 season that NBC removed Bettis and Tiki Barber as “Football Night” analysts, replacing them with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, who are expected to remain in those roles, even as NBC brings Ward aboard in 2012.

This is the second of two big NBC hires this month, and I’ll tell you why: they’re investing in one individual for being a regular on “Football Night In America” among other contributions in the sports arena (Ward); while in Michelle Beadle, they’re hiring someone to cover some sports and some entertainment criteria. See, NBC made a big mistake when they hired one person – Tiki Barber – to do both. It failed, miserably, and with these dual hires, they realize that.

You would have to think that WPXI, the NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, is particularly proud that Hines Ward will now be part of the station’s on-air network personnel. I just hope they didn’t show him in a Ravens uniform when they broke the news.

Could Free Agent Keith Olbermann Step Up To The Plate And Join MLB Network?

With the news that former ESPN, NBC and FOX Sports personality Keith Olbermann has parted ways with Current TV, there may be a chance that, after concentrating on political news content for the greater part of the last nine years, he may go back to his sports broadcasting roots and resurface on MLB Network or CBS Sports Network.

Former sports broadcaster Keith Olbermann is once again out of a non-sports broadcasting television job.

His political news program “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” which he had hosted for nearly eight years at MSNBC, has been canceled by Current TV after just nine months, and fifteen months after Olbermann joined the network. According to The New York Times’ Brian Stelter, who broke the story, Current severed ties with Olbermann after citing that he has violated the channel’s “values” as “an authentic progressive outlet.” Olbermann’s program content on “Countdown’ reflected his Democratic political leaning, which conformed with the demographic of Current, and MSNBC before it. (Both networks’ programming is mostly of a progressive political persuasion.)

There is a saying: When one door closes, another one opens. Perhaps there’s a chance that Keith Olbermann could return to sports broadcasting – provided there are any takers.

Such a move would bring Olbermann’s career full circle. In the late 1970’s, while he was concentrating on academics at Hackley School and Cornell University, he had dabbled in those schools’ radio stations. He would get his first round of face time when he joined the upstart CNN in 1981, where he would anchor sports updates. For the remainder of the 1980’s, Olbermann would hold sports anchor jobs in radio and television, in top markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Boston.

It was at ESPN where his star flourished in the mid-1990’s. His pairing with Dan Patrick was said to be the most popular “SportsCenter” anchor era of all time. That would come to an abrupt end in 1997, when former colleague Craig Kilborn, invited Olbermann to appear on his new Comedy Central program, “The Daily Show.” At the end of the segment, Kilborn did a “Five Questions” bit with Olbermann. One of the questions was: “What is the most God forsaken place on the East Coast?” Olbermann’s answer: “Bristol, Connecticut.” That counted as a correct answer, at least on the show. But not in the Worldwide Leader’s eyes. And it didn’t help that Olbermann’s appearance on “The Daily Show” was not authorized by ESPN. Olbermann would eventually leave ESPN later that year. (Kilborn would voluntarily leave “The Daily Show” in 1999; the show has since been hosted by Jon Stewart.)

In the dozen years that followed, Olbermann would work odd sports jobs at other outlets: his three-year relationship with FOX included a weekly program on FOX Sports Net. His tenure would come to an end in 2001 when he reported on FOX about rumors that the Dodgers were being sold by owner Rupert Murdoch, which also owns News Corporation, which owns FOX. (Murdoch would sell the team to Frank McCourt, who sold it to a group including Magic Johnson just this week.) He provided daily sports commentary segments for ABC Radio. And he spent three years as a co-host of NBC’s “Football Night In America” from 2007 to 2010.

As Olbermann donned his sports broadcasting hat, he would also work, at times simultaneously, in news journalism. When he left ESPN in 1997, he started a nightly program on MSNBC that was originally titled, “The Big Show with Keith Olbermann.” The next year, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal involving former President Bill Clinton, his program has focused on “Intern-Gate”, much to his chagrin. It was at that point that he left MSNBC for FOX.

Olbermann would return to MSNBC in 2003 to host “Countdown.” As he verbally sparred with FOX News Channel host Bill O’Reilly – whose “O’Reilly Factor” aired opposite “Countdown” – and President George W. Bush, during and after his second term, he would become one of cable news’ most polarizing personalities. Despite that, NBC signed him as a co-host for their “Sunday Night Football” extended pregame show, which recapped the NFL games played earlier that day. When NBC brought his old pal Dan Patrick on board, it was just like old times, if only for once a week: The duo would spark “SportsCenter” nostalgia in the hopes that it would help the ratings of “Football Night,” which were never stellar, especially when airing opposite late games that went into overtime, or, simply, prime time. (You will recall “Football Night” also hired one Tiki Barber.) Olbermann would be removed from the program in 2010, at the behest of his bosses at MSNBC, over concerns that the extracurricular NBC program was a distraction; clearly, “Countdown” had been Olbermann’s bread and butter.

Later that fall, it would be revealed that Olbermann had sent $2,400 in campaign contributions to three Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2010 elections, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who, unfortunately, resigned her seat over a year after she was tragically shot in the head. When MSNBC learned of this, they had suspended Olbermann indefinitely. Like his appearance on Comedy Central years ago, his political contributions were not authorized by management of the network signing his checks. Olbermann and MSNBC would part ways in January of 2011.

Olbermann was hired by Current TV in February 2011 with the title of “chief news officer”. The channel, co-owned by Al Gore, who served as Vice President under Clinton in the 1990’s, would relaunch “Countdown” in June 2011. Despite a “rocky relationship” with network brass, the former veep would give Olbermann a vote of confidence. (Sports fans: You already know how valuable votes of confidence are in sports.) Apparently, the situation between the anchor and the network came to a head, as Current abruptly severed ties with Olbermann this afternoon.

Already, many are wondering what the next stop for Olbermann will be – if at all.

Based on this recap of his career in news and sports broadcasting, it may give the impression that he’s not a good employee when the cameras are off. Certainly, Olbermann has been notorious for burning bridges with his former employers. So you can already cross a few media entities off the list: ESPN/ABC (where he didn’t just burn bridges, “he napalmed them“); FOX (especially if it’s still under Murdoch’s watch; Murdoch himself was once quoted as calling Olbermann “crazy”); and his most recent cable news employers, Current and MSNBC.

The very post that you’re reading may be a case of deja vu. When Olbermann left MSNBC last year, there were many speculating whether it would be possible for Olbermann to return to sports broadcasting. Of course, back then, there were two fewer cable sports networks at the time. CBS Sports Network launched in April 2011, with NBC Sports Network following on the day after New Year’s Day 2012. And incidentally, word on the street this week is that FOX is planning to launch a new general cable sports network. Obviously, FOX’s new network is not an option, and it isn’t even on the air yet. But it certainly is not out of the question for Olbermann to resurface at CBS Sports Network, or perhaps, even NBC Sports Network: remember that in 2011, Olbermann was discharged by MSNBC, not NBC or NBC Sports; it was MSNBC that ended his association with NBC Sports. And I don’t recall Olbermann trashing NBC in the wake of his departure from MSNBC, so there is a possibility he could appear on NBC Sports Network – but it’s not a lock.

The lock in this instance would be CBS Sports Network. With all of the many stops on Olbermann’s storied resume, his only employment for CBS was at the network’s owned-and-operated Los Angeles station, KCBS, in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. Also, he has a good friendship with CBS late night host David Letterman. That in and of itself would be a huge endorsement for Olbermann’s future at CBS, if not CBS Sports Network. CBSSN could benefit from a huge name; they’re already going all in with Jim Rome, the former ESPN program host whose new show on CBSSN launches next week. Olbermann might bring a slightly higher demographic to CBSSN than Rome, but he brings experience and a wealth of knowledge to the table. Olbermann could be best suited for a baseball-themed show. He’s maintained a blog (endorsed by Major League Baseball) going back to the days when he balanced football on NBC and politics on MSNBC. In fact, he just posted a new blog entry previewing the season ahead for the American League East just hours before his departure from Current TV was made public.

Which leads to another possibility of a future television employer, and perhaps a more likely landing spot: the three-year-old MLB Network. They, too, could use Olbermann’s vast knowledge and star power. A nightly highlight show in the vein of “SportsCenter” would be ideal. In case you missed it, the title of his MLB-sanctioned blog is “Baseball Nerd.” He’s even authored baseball-themed stories on “Countdown.” An Olbermann/MLB Network marriage would benefit both sides. And it wouldn’t be Olbermann’s first appearance on MLB Network: He had appeared on the January 12 edition of “Clubhouse Confidential“. And given his political penchant, it didn’t take long before posters on a thread promoting the appearance on MLB Network’s Facebook page started mentioning the likes of Ron Paul and Rush Limbaugh.

Of course, of concern to any future employer, such as CBS or MLB Network, is Olbermann’s history of “burning bridges” and excess baggage, but most importantly, his political patronizing over the last decade. There are thousands of videos on YouTube of Olbermann’s old MSNBC shows, specifically his popular “Special Comment” segments, in which shades of anger are regularly exhibited, that could turn a network off, depending on what clip they were looking at. But it’s not his fault. When he chose to delve into a political news niche, that was a decision that he believed in, and he gained a loyal following from his days at MSNBC. Because Keith Olbermann may be known in recent years as a bridge burner, and an anger spewer on television, it should not ensconce the days of sports broadcasting that put Keith Olbermann on the map.

While mollifying his political pep may be a requirement if hired by a sports outlet, such as CBS Sports Network, it’s possible Keith Olbermann may find it in his heart to do so.

This is obviously contingent on whether or not he wants to return to sports broadcasting in the first place.

But there could be a couple of opportunities knocking in the form of CBS and MLB Network – and I’m sure Keith’s got a few more innings left in him.

UPDATE: Since this blog was first posted, there’s been new developments: As Olbermann vowed to take legal action against Current over breach of contract, Current claims Olbermann himself was in breach of contract by missing “19 out of 41 working days” over the first two months of 2012 alone (did we mention his appearance on MLB Network was in January?); apparently, network management was incensed when Olbermann asked for another vacation day in March and, despite not being an approved vacation day, he took it anyway.

Incidentally, I wonder if Olbermann had asked Current about taking a vacation day for this upcoming Thursday, April 5 – that’s when he will once again be reunited with Dan Patrick for a live seminar at New York’s Paley Center titled “Twentieth Anniversary Of The Big Show: Keith Olbermann And Dan Patrick Together Again.” It will be moderated by Jim Miller, co-author of the book “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World Of ESPN” – and already, his Twitter followers are taking bets on whether or not he’ll show up. Stay tuned.

The Best Super Bowl XLVI Prop Bet With No Action: Will NBC Once Again Pipe In Salsa Music If Victor Cruz Scores A Touchdown?

Sure, you can bet on whether or not Kelly Clarkson will forget a word while singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVI. But there should be a prop bet involving whether or not you'll hear a song if the Giants' Victor Cruz scores a touchdown in the big game, which is airing on NBC.

There are three major things that are related to the annual Super Bowl: commercials (another talking animal? lame), food consumption (burp) and gambling.

There are the usual Super Bowl pools that are mundane in most offices, but lately, there’s another class of gambling related to the big game that’s been growing in popularity in recent years: exotic bets, otherwise known as proposition bets (or “prop bets” for short).

The popular prop bets involve the singer who is scheduled to perform the National Anthem. For example, not only can you bet on whether or not Kelly Clarkson will forget a word or two when she belts out the Star-Spangled Banner at Lucas Oil Field before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI, but you can also take wagers as to whether or not her belly button will be in view during the performance. (If Ed Sullivan were alive, he’d probably bet all of his life savings on “no”.) There is also the usual bet on what color the Gatorade will be when it is splashed on the head coach of the prevailing team.

Then, you have over-the-top prop bets. For example, two years ago, when the New Orleans Saints squared off against the Indianapolis Colts for Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, there were bets related to how many times CBS cameras would pan on Archie Manning, father of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, or Kim Kardashian, the girlfriend of Saints running back Reggie Bush at the time.

And last year, for Super Bowl XLV, which took place at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, one exotic bet was if whether or not a punt from either the Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers would hit one of its two high-definition scoreboards, which hang unusually low over the field (it took only the first exhibition game played at the stadium for that to happen).

This year, as you can imagine, there is a host of Super Bowl XLVI prop bets waiting for your hard-earned cash. You can bet on whether or not Tom Brady’s wife or son will be shown during the game. You can also bet on whether or not the number of rushing yards the Patriots’ BenJarvus Green-Ellis gets will be higher than Mitt Romney’s vote share in the Nevada Republican primaries, which are being held today.

You can even bet on whether or not Madonna will sport a hat when she performs at the halftime show.

But there’s one exotic bet missing that I believe should be getting action in Vegas. And with NBC carrying this year’s Super Bowl – and the New York Giants’ involvement in it – this prop bet should be a given.

Let’s go back to New Year’s Day, when NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” aired the “win and you’re in” contest between the Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, which would not only decide which team wins the NFC East, but advances to the playoffs. With five minutes left in the first quarter, Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz for the first score of the game. Then, as Cruz proceeded to delight Giants fans with a six-second salsa dance, viewers could hear corresponding salsa music. Even Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were likely caught off-guard with the impromptu musical selection.

Later, Deadspin confirmed that the salsa snippet was indeed piped in by the NBC broadcast truck, but had Cruz hit paydirt on a crucial play, or had either team – specifically, the Giants – been down a large number of points at the time, NBC would not have went the rumba route.

Five weeks later, and the Giants are once again playing a primetime game on NBC, on football’s biggest stage. Why wouldn’t the NBC broadcast truck mix in a little merengue music a second time? Especially since NBC wasn’t even fined by the NFL over the bachata brouhaha back on January 1?

Go ahead and put your money on whether or not Victor Cruz has more receiving yards than Wes Welker.

I’m betting on Al and Cris receiving another salsa serenade when Cruz takes it to the house.

With no introduction whatsoever from Ed Sullivan.

Tiki Barber Follows Failed NFL Comeback With Failed Television Comeback

Desperate and destitute, Tiki Barber will be making a television comeback this weekend, after his former team, the New York Giants, play in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. But it appears that fate has had the last laugh on Tiki Barber.

What a tumultuous last year it’s been for Tiki Barber.

Or five.

You may recall when the second-round draft-picked running back, who spent his entire football career with the New York Giants, decided to pull a Jim Brown and embark on an exciting new career in television at the conclusion of the 2006 NFL season.

Quite frankly, Tiki fell flat as a media figure. He had actually started dabbling with a television career, auditioning on Fox News Channel during his final season with the Giants. Hard to believe, as many as four networks actually competed for the free-agent TV talent’s services, with NBC becoming the eventual winner – or shall I say, eventual loser. What started as a giant (no pun intended) role on “The Today Show” effectively turned into a demotion as a studio-host-cum-roving-early-game-correspondent on “Football Night In America.” Apparently, NBC had seen enough when they unceremoniously dumped him in the summer of 2010. You know, kinda like how Tiki unceremoniously dumped his eight-months-pregnant-with-twins wife for an NBC intern just months earlier.

Around that time, the former grid great who made O.J. Simpson look like a ladies’ man admitted he was financially unable to pay his divorce settlement with his newly-estranged ex-wife.

He was flat broke – just like his flat television career.

WWTD: What would Tiki do?

Four years removed from the game of football, and probably putting on a hell of a lot more than the ten pounds the traditional camera puts on, Tiki Barber decided to unretire.

Teams such as the Steelers, the Dolphins, and even the Buccaneers – who have been signing the paychecks of his twin brother Ronde for the last fifteen years (and probably has had a brighter media career than Tiki, at this point) – gave him a look.

But there would be no takers.

Which meant no new revenue stream.

Which meant no money to put toward his former wife.

Or the wedding with his future wife.

To say Tiki Barber is at a point of desperation is an understatement. Even Shelley Long has no sympathy for Tiki Barber.

How desperate is Tiki Barber, you may ask? Well, he just signed on to be a talking head for SNY, the regional sports network which is mostly owned by the New York Mets – the baseball franchise involved in Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme.

When you have to resort to a Madoff victim for extra cash, clearly, you have hit rock bottom.

Anyway, Barber’s television comeback will start with the Giants/49ers postgame program on SNY, which begins after the final snap in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night.

Said Barber of the hire: “I am looking forward to providing my insights.” Translation: “I am looking forward to providing a spectacular honeymoon suite for Traci Lynn Johnson.”

“Hopefully it will be after a Giants win.” Translation 1: “… because the more appearances I make on television, the more opportunities there are for a Giant pay day!” Translation 2: “Hopefully, the Giants will lose because I can’t wait to rip them again.”

You may recall back in the summer of 2007, back when Tiki Barber’s floundering TV career was in its fledgling stage, when during the halftime show of a “Sunday Night Football” preseason game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens, one of the first games Big Blue played since his departure, he questioned quarterback Eli Manning’s leadership, calling it “comical.”

And all Manning did was lead the Tiki-free Giants to a Super Bowl victory.

Salt, meet wound.

It’s hard to tell if Barber is more bitter than desperate. The Giants had made the playoffs for half of the ten seasons Barber suited up with them, and four of those five playoff appearances were one-and-dones; Barber’s personal postseason record is 2-5, with the two lone wins coming in the Super Bowl also-ran 2000-01 postseason. Since Tiki took his ball and went home, the Giants’ postseason record is 6-1, and with a victory in San Francisco on Sunday, they’ll be sniffing another Lombardi trophy.

Again: salt, meet wound.

At the cusp of a scurried, post-lockout 2011 preseason, when all 32 teams finalized their rosters, Barber’s agent, Mark Lepselter, said he was “flabbergasted that Tiki has not had an opportunity with any team.”

I’m flabbergasted that Mark Lepselter wasn’t very flabbergasted by his client’s Anne Frank comparison, enough that Lepselter still represents him.

And now, a network in which the Mets have a 65% ownership in has rewarded the fallen football star, who had experienced an even greater fall than Humpty Dumpty on television, with a stint on their NFC Championship game postgame show.

Could you imagine if David Einhorn had successfully became a minority owner of the Mets? That idea probably would have been sacked in a second.

Perhaps it’s poetic justice, with Tiki Barber abandoning his wife of eleven years while she was carrying two twin daughters in the latter half of their third trimester, that he now has to resort to odd jobs in television in the wake of a TV career that has collapsed worse than that playoff game in San Francisco.

Submitted for your approval: His appearances on the revival of the PBS series, “The Electric Company.” I’m sure if he were alive, even George Carlin (the raunchy comedian who doubled as “Mr. Conductor” on “Shining Time Station”) would think that’s a questionable move.

Now, he’s making his second go-round on non-public television with the conclusion of the NFC Championship Game featuring his former team. Sounds like an installment of “Prankster Planet,” if you ask me.

By the way, just to give you an idea of just how bad things have gotten for Tiki Barber: Earlier this month, while at a New York City courthouse for a divorce proceeding conference, he was reportedly “rushed by a dozen court staffers in the waiting area.” And according to a court source, Tiki was reprotedly “loving it.”

Tiki will be lucky if he gets as much attention this Sunday night on SNY.

Tiki Barber’s fall from grace has been, to say the least, just flabbergasting.

WWTD(F$): What would Tiki do (for money)?