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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Admit It, Chicago:

That Was a Great Sting

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Believe it or not, most of the sports world was not obsessing last week about football's Game of the Millennium at the Metrodome. The top story was the International Olympic Committee's choice of the host city for the 2016 Summer Games. "Experts" had Chicago and Rio de Janeiro in a tight race, so the Windy City rolled out the Big O's—Oprah and the Obamas—to seal the deal. But in the end, Rio did the dancing.

Frank: I guess the president really could have found a better use of his time than flying to Copenhagen and shilling for his hometown.

Artie: Chicago was dead last among the four choices. I don't get it: Corruption, shady politics, cheating—the place is a perfect match for the Olympics!

Frank: Remember, this is the newly "pure" IOC. After all the bribery involved in giving the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City, the IOC was embarrassed to be caught wallowing in the muck. Now the members pretty much stay away from the bidding cities. But this time, I'd say, they pampered themselves with a little extortion.

Artie: How so?

Frank: In September the IOC president, Jacques Rogge, made it clear that his cronies expected some stroking from Obama. Rogge said, "I don't think there's an IOC member on the planet that wouldn't love to meet your president... If he can be persuaded to go, I think it makes a huge difference."

Artie: In other words, get your butt to Denmark, Barack, or else.

Frank: These IOC fat cats wanted photos with the president or his wife or Oprah, in lieu of lining their pockets.

Artie: And then they stuck it to Chicago anyway. What a great con; the home of The Sting gets stung!

Frank: I thought all along that Obama shouldn't go to Copenhagen. He had many more important issues to worry about—just as he implied on Sept. 16, before he changed his mind.

Artie: He's catching hell from Glenn Beck and other right-wing nuts. But with them, he's always damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, ain'a?

Frank: Absolutely. And I'm proud to say I voted for Obama. But I think pandering to the IOC was improper, regardless of the outcome. The Associated Press says it probably cost more than a million bucks for the Air Force One flights, security and whatever other expenses. That's our money, and I didn't want it spent that way—any more than I wanted it spent on a trip to New York to josh with David Letterman. This stuff is not what the nation's leader should be doing.

Artie: He was acting more like the president of Chicago’s Chamber of Commerce.

Frank: There was talk about the Olympics boosting the whole country, but how? I'm an American and it wouldn't have changed my life one bit. I don't care where the Olympics are, as long as they're on my TV screen.

Artie: I'm glad Rio won because I sure don't want Al Qaeda 90 miles from here. You know they'd be coming in '16 if the target was Chicago.

Frank: Like all Olympic bidders, Chicago expected an economic boom. But cities like Montreal and Athens have found that in the long run, the Games are a bust. Costs always go sky high and the public ultimately gets stuck for the deficits.

Artie: Chicago had some venues in place, like the United Center and Soldier Field. But during the Games there'd still be baseball with the Cubs and White Sox, and maybe football season starting up. Think about the traffic. Cripes, you can't drive around Chicago on a regular day!

Frank: No wonder the public was, to say the least, divided on the Olympics, according to all the polls. But Chicago's loss was also Wisconsin's, sort of. The Madison area would have been the venue for many of the cycling events.

Artie: We had the last Summer Games in Beijing. Why have even part of 'em in another Communist territory?

Frank: Are you channeling Glenn Beck?

Artie: Hey, the Badgers don't have red as their main color by accident, mister.

Frank: In the end, I think, the Rio choice was based on giving the Games to South America for the first time, plus a little bit of "stick it to America." And let's never forget the self-interest of IOC members; as I heard one pundit say, "They'd rather go to Rio."

Artie: Who wouldn't want to samba with those babes you see at Carnival, their version of Mardi Gras? And think of it, Mr. Beach Volleyball Fan—Blame It on Rio came out 25 years ago, and Ipanema looked pretty uninhibited then. God knows how wild that competition will be in '16!

Round 1 Is Favre’s

Frank: A tight deadline keeps us from commenting much on the Packers' loss at Minnesota, and I guess from your standpoint that's fine.

Artie: You betcha. The less said about that offensive line the better.

Frank: Still, for all the negatives—eight sacks including a safety, plus a fumble and interception while they were driving toward scores, plus a dropped fourth-down pass in the end zone—the margin was just 30-23.

Artie: I thought the key would be stopping Adrian Peterson, and they pretty much did. But they still lost.

Frank: The biggest reason, as tough as it might be for some folks to take, was that No. 4 in purple.

Artie: Brett played like the Favre of old, as we heard constantly from Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. But a lot of that was because the Packers never, ever put any pressure on him.

Frank: That may have had something to do with the schemes they used to stop Peterson. But yeah, the difference in quarterback protection was glaring.

Artie: Remember a couple of years ago when Favre was telling Ted Thompson, "Get me more weapons"? Aaron Rodgers is gonna be begging Thompson, "Get me a line!"

Frank: Rodgers gets a chance with the bye week to rest up from this pounding. And with games against Detroit and Cleveland after that, the Packers should be 4-2 when they see Favre again on Nov. 1 at Lambeau Field.

Artie: He won't feel as comfortable then.

Better Late…

Frank: Chalk up another victory for the Observers! Oregon football coach Chip Kelly has changed his mind and given LeGarrette Blount a chance to play again this season.

Artie: That's the running back who punched a Boise State guy after the season opener, ain'a?

Frank: And was suspended for the rest of the season by Kelly—which we said was excessive.

Artie: Mainly because the Boise guy started it by taunting Blount and whacking him on the shoulder pad. And Boise coach Chris Petersen didn't punish him.

Frank: Last week Kelly said Blount might return if he meets certain goals, including academic.

Artie: Kelly will get some raised eyebrows for backtracking, but he can't... DUCK that.

Frank: Pun duly noted. Some might suspect he wants Blount's help for a possible run at the Pac-10 title.

Artie: Or even the national title. Since the Boise loss, the Ducks are 4-0. Before the season some folks said they could knock off USC in the conference, and they play the Trojans at home on Halloween night.

Frank: Kelly says Blount can't return until after Nov. 7 at the earliest. That would give him three regular-season games plus a bowl.

Artie: If they finish with just the one loss to Boise, that bowl could be the BCS champ-een-ship game.

Frank: Maybe even a rematch with Boise, which is unbeaten.

Artie: I'd love that. It would screw up the BCS system big-time!

Frank: As long as we're dreaming, why not have Bucky Badger in the title game? UW is 5-0, and with a little luck Saturday at Ohio State...

Artie: Why not? Until you're defeated, you're undefeated!

Frank: Readers, you can't get wisdom like that just anywhere.