The lighter side of sports: Manziel's hoodies, Browns' parade, Jackson's weird food, Sharks-Jets and more

By: Andrew Bucholtz

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Welcome to another edition of The Lighter Side Of Sports, covering many of the weirdest sports-related stories out there.

Johnny Manziel looks to sell "ComebackSZN" hoodies before signing a contract: There's been plenty of talk about Johnny Manziel to the CFL lately, something we discussed on Fired Up this week, but he hasn't actually signed a contract yet. Manziel and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats appear far apart thanks to his reported demand to be paid like former Hamilton QB Zach Collaros, who had one of the highest contracts in the league. And while many athletes would probably want to actually be associated with a team before contemplating selling merchandise, it looks like Manziel is skipping straight to the merchandise, as he asked followers on Instagram Wednesday if they'd want to buy a "ComebackSZN" hoodie he was modelling (although he did later delete the posts). That phrase has been used by Manziel before, specifically when trolling his former team in Cleveland. But in order to have a comeback, you sort of need to have a contract, no? Maybe Manziel will be able to come to terms with the Ticats and will wind up shining in the CFL (although that's far from a guarantee given the success rates for big-name QBs who come north), and maybe this will make more sense in the long run, but for now, it looks like he may be putting the merchandising cart before the contract horse.

Browns' fans hold 0-16 parade: Speaking of the Browns and former Browns players, frustrated fans of the team held a parade in Cleveland this week to mark the Browns' 0-16 record this year. And it was pretty notable, with fans gathering to complain about the team and the 1-31 record they've put up the past two seasons, while still displaying some hope for the future. The parade also raised $17,157 for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, plus around 2,000 non-perishable food items. So this worked pretty well overall.

Phil Jackson made Lauri Markkanen eat raw meat: Jackson's famed for the six titles (two three-peats, even) he won as a NBA coach, but his recent 2015-2017 stint as the New York Knicks' president did not go well. And while it's not necessarily a major factor in his failure, his behavior towards players and prospects didn't help. A story that came out this week saw Chicago Bulls' star rookie Lauri Markkanen say that in a pre-draft meeting, Jackson "made me taste raw fish, or raw steak. I didn't like it." And Jackson also encouraged draft prospect Dennis Smith Jr. to eat "an actual octopus tentacle." Smith's reluctance might be part of why the Knicks passed on him with the eighth pick to take Frank Ntilikina, who has made far less of an impact so far. So that's some good management there, Phil. Amazingly, "forcing players to eat things they don't like" didn't build a successful team.

Winnipeg-San Jose war kicked off by Sharks' broadcasters: The Sharks-Jets controversy this week (like West Side Story, but with much less snapping) over San Jose players' comments about Winnipeg being cold and dark in the winter was hilarious, especially when it came to Sharks' GM Doug Wilson's response.

“It’s disappointing that our broadcast partner would put our players in that position. First of all, by even asking that question, then putting it on our broadcast. That was a question that was one of 30 that were asked earlier in the year. To me, it was an inappropriate question that should not have been asked. Whether it was an attempt at humor, it was not appropriate.”

Why was Wilson so mad? Well, he has his own ties to Winnipeg...

"I went to high school in Winnipeg, I played junior hockey in Winnipeg. It’s a great city and (the Jets are) a wonderful organization and I’m disappointed that our broadcast partner would put our players or our organization in a position to have to respond to this."

So, in other words, Wilson doesn't subscribe to The Simpsons' theories about Winnipeg.

Japanese kayaker banned for spiking rival's drink: Yasuhiro Suzuki saw a ban from his sport for an unusual reason this week; he confessed to spiking rival Seiji Komatsu's drink at last year's world championships, causing Komatsu to fail a drug test. Now that's really taking competitiveness to the next level.

Lemur attack: Finally, it's not sports, but you need to see this video of a BBC reporter being mobbed by lemurs while reporting from a zoo...

The hazards of journalism.

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