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■ Lance Armstrong's second retirement -- the first was in 2005 -- passed almost without notice earlier this week, perhaps because he did little more than spin wheels during his comeback.
As a cyclist, he was pure power in his prime and one of the greatest competitors ever. He won an unprecedented seven Tour de France titles, beat cancer, and started the Livestrong Foundation that has inspired millions and changed lifestyles.
He also landed under the cloud of suspicion that blankets his sport despite never failing a drug test. Based on allegations, many from discredited rider Floyd Landis, Armstrong is the focus of a grand jury investigating doping on his former U.S. Postal Service racing team dating to 2002.
Armstrong going away won't make that go away, and we are left to wonder if he will eventually become another shamed athletic career despite such considerable accomplishment.
■ Quote-unquote Dale Earnhardt, Jr., after dropping from the pole position to No. 43 on the Daytona 500's starting grid, the result of a practice crash Wednesday:
"I didn't feel good about getting out there and practicing. I didn't think I needed to be out there practicing. I had a bad feeling about it."
So why the heck was he out there? Crew chiefs, mechanics, and drivers never stop tinkering, from the first run of the week to the last lap of the race, always trying to coax another MPH.
Buy why jeopardize the pole position? After all, there's nothing faster than fastest.
■ Did Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers really pull out a bottle of scotch and take a swig in front of a Florida cop?
That's what the Wednesday night DUI arrest report says. Smooth move.
■ There's a place called Toomer's Corner on the edge of the Auburn University campus where fans for years have "rolled the corner" after football victories, draping two massive oak trees, each about 130 years old, with toilet paper. An arrest was made yesterday after someone, thought to be an Alabama fan, infected the trees with a lethal dose of herbicide and called a radio show to brag about it. Sick.
■ MAC women's basketball coach of the year is a one-horse race and Toledo's Tricia Cullop has all but hit the finish line. Player of the year? I know UT fans don't want to read this, but Bowling Green is 21-4 and without Lauren Prochaska, healthy or not, the Falcons would be more like 12-13.
■ The ongoing Super Bowl ticket snafu is anything but the kind of publicity the NFL needs in the midst of what could be a nasty, protracted labor dispute.
■ Speaking of bad PR, I hope you got to see the incredible bicycle-kick soccer goal scored by Manchester United's Wayne Rooney before it was pulled from YouTube and other Internet sites because of a copyright claim by the Barclay's Premier League. Let's not use a great moment to win new fans or anything.
■ We all know the UT men's basketball program has reached rock bottom the last couple seasons, but have you given any thought to just how bad it is to lose 44 straight road games? About as bad as going 14-27 at home in the same span.
■ Question: Am I the only one curious whether Mayor Bell's new Chinese friends might be interested in buying a school district? Another question: In Thursday's Sidelines, did Central Catholic star Drew Lehman really answer "Defiance" when asked his favorite place to visit? Methinks the lad needs to travel.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398
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