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WrestleMania Brings Back Some Memories Of The Past And Creates Some New Ones

Never has a radio commercial paid off for me the way one did this past weekend. It was there that I heard what was truly surprising, shocking even. Bret "The Hitman" Hart would take on Vince McMahon at WrestleMania Sunday night. For an old-school wrestling fan, from the cartoon era, to ECW, to the attitude era in the WWF, this was the feud to end all feuds. Why? One simple reason - it was real. If you don't know the back story of the "Montreal Screwjob" type "Wrestling With Shadows" in a YouTube search and watch the documentary ... it's worth it.

I haven't watched wrestling in a long, long time and wasn't even interested in knowing what was going on. But the fact Hart would be wrestling McMahon piqued my interest enough to check out wrestling's Super Bowl.

And, if I paid for it, I would have gotten my money's worth. But it wasn't because of the Hart-McMahon showdown, rather, for another old-school matchup that truly had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Better yet, it was like being sent back in time to an era where wrestling ruled the world, an era that I loved while in college.

So, after watching Hart finally beat up and defeat McMahon, then Chris Jericho beat Edge (who actually had his tryout match with the WWF way back when at Nassau Coliseum with me in attendance ... more blasts from the past), and John Cena beat Batista for the WWE title, it was time for a main event that could have headlined 10 years ago.

The Undertaker (my all-time favorite) would wrestle Shawn Michaels in a career versus streak match. Michaels put up his career while the Undertaker put his WrestleMania undefeated record (17-0) on the line.

After the goose-bump inducing preview montage and introductions, I couldn't believe when Michaels said these same two guys had put together the greatest match in WrestleMania history just last year. There was just no way that these two could put together an exciting match from start to finish, I thought. I loved the Undertaker years ago, but he was never a fleet-of-foot guy, making standout matches few and far between, so I could only imagine what kind of shape he'd be in now.

Boy was I wrong.

The two elder statesmen put on one hell of a show that impressed me to no end. It was so good that I went back and forth over who would win the match several times. There was multiple finishers applied that were either reversed or kicked-out. Michaels even nailed a moonsault from the top rope onto the Undertaker and through the announcer's table outside the ring.

It was wild. It was crazy. It was truly awesome.

In the end, 30 minutes after it started, two straight tombstones by the Undertaker gave him the win to improve to 18-0 at WrestleMania. Michaels lost his career and went out to the cheers from the crowd after the Undertaker helped him up and shook his hand.

For one night, I was transported back to the golden age of professional wrestling. I may not check out Raw or Smackdown any time soon, but on this night, wrestling once again ruled the world. It was great to be back.

Say It Ain't So, Greatest TV Show Ever, 24, To End Run On Fox

Here at GameDay, there isn't many television shows worth the time of being watched religiously anymore. Back in the day, you know, the days of Must See TV, I watched so much television it was probably unhealthy. These days, with the night job and the decline of broadcast television in general, there isn't many shows that catch my attention week-in and week-out.

But there was always one show that endured. One show that I won't miss. One show that pushes the limits each week. One show that keeps you on the edge of your seat. One show that created an unmatched legacy for its lead character.

That one show, if you need to ask, is 24.

And now the show is coming to an end. Yes, it is the sad truth. FOX and Jack Bauer (who plays Kiefer Sutherland in real life) announced that the current season will be its last.

My reaction to the whole thing? Say it ain't so. Sure the show hasn't been able to recapture the greatness of the fourth season, which could be the greatest season of any television series in history, but the bar was obviously set amazingly high. But it's still the best show on television. Nothing holds a candle to it. And if you haven't watched the show, get the DVD's because you'll never want to press stop.

The hero, of course, is Jack Bauer, the tormented soul who has done some of the most brutal things imaginable to himself and the enemy, and never once did you question what he was doing. Cutting off a guy's head ... he had to do it. Killing a guy with an ax to the chest ... the guy had it coming. Torturing some guy who was withholding information ... well, just give up the info already. At the end of one season, Jack was kidnapped and shipped off to China ... and we all thought the one billion Chinese vs. Jack Bauer would be a fair fight.

And now, they say, it's over. I've heard the rumors about it being picked up by another network, and I would love that, and I'm saying silent, yet constant prayers for that to happen. So, NBC, ABC, CBS, heck, HBO, let's do this. I know personally that there are still plenty of die-hards that don't want to see the show die. I don't want to see the show die. But it sounds like another network picking the show up is a longshot.

There is solid talk that 24 will turn into a movie. But it just isn't the same. Would I go see "24: The Movie"? Maybe. Would I be in front of the television for next season's premiere no matter the network? Abso-freaking-lutely. The movie version of 24 doesn't work the same as the television version because it doesn't flow the same. But I guess it would be better than nothing.

So, as I type this and think of all the great moments the show has put forth over its time on the air, I can still hope that someone picks it up and breathes new life into the series. But if this is the end, I want to thank the creators and, most of all, Jack Bauer, for being my kick-ass hero for all of these years.

GameDay Live: State Tournaments, St. Paul, Berlin Girls Basketball, New Britain Boys Basketball

CIAC Class LL State Tournament, Quarterfinals
Bridgeport Central 71, New Britain 54
[NOTES: New Britain eliminated from the Class LL State Tournament by top-seed Bridgeport Central.]

CIAC Class S State Tournament, Semifinals
St. Paul 44, Bolton 30
[NOTES: St. Paul advances to the Class S State Tournament championship game at Mohegan Sun either Friday or Saturday against No. 9 Portland, which defeated Coginchaug 35-28 Monday night.]

CIAC Class L State Tournament, Semifinals
Hillhouse 54, Berlin 47
[NOTES: Berlin eliminated from the Class L State Tournament by ninth-seeded Hillhouse.]

Jets Could Be On Verge Of Signing Future Hall Of Fame RB Tomlinson

The Jets may be on the verge of signing future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. And the signs are obvious. Tomlinson has extended his visit with the Jets for another day, after meeting with the team all day Friday and then having dinner with GM Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan Friday night. While the Vikings let him get away, the Jets aren't likely to do the same. Why? It's simple - Rex Ryan.

His style is infectious with both players and fans, with both ready to fight to the death for the coach. He has that kind of personality. It also doesn't hurt that Tomlinson will have every chance to succeed with the Jets, as he would backup Shonn Greene, who was a rookie last season.

The other team in the race, the Vikings, can offer Tomlinson limited potential for playing time with Adrian Peterson already on the team. All things being equal, the Jets are the much better fit. While I originally thought Thomas Jones would be the better choice over Tomlinson, I've switched gears of late. Playing with a great offensive line, Tomlinson could put up huge numbers with the Jets. Even though he would back up Greene, Tomlinson would get a bunch of carries, in the 10-15 range. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield, a dimension that wasn't there when Jones was in the game.

It's obvious that LT has lost a step, but playing in the right system, he could easily have one more great season in him. With the Jets being so close to getting to elite status, it's a chance they absolutely need to take. The money issue is another topic, as I hope Tomlinson would get less than the $5.8 million due Jones this year. But that's just to show respect to Jones.

Finally, I do hope the Jets bring back Leon Washington as well. He is a restricted free agent with a second-round tender.

UPDATE: As I mentioned in the comments section, Tomlinson is now talking things over with his wife, so a decision could be made soon. While I'm sure the Jets would have loved to have him sign on before leaving for San Diego today, they have to feel good about their spot in the two-team race with the Vikings. If Tomlinson bases his decision on playing time and the chance to win, he should pick the Jets. If it comes down to money, then we'll have to wait and see who puts together the better deal.

GameDay Live: Boys Basketball State Tournament Quarterfinals, Bristol Eastern & St. Paul

CIAC Class L State Tournament, Quarterfinal
Boys Basketball
Bristol Eastern 79, Northwest Catholic 78
(NOTES: Iverson misses a 3 with three seconds left and Bristol Eastern advances to its first semifinal since 1981. No. 3 Eastern will play second-seed New London Tuesday night in New Haven in the Class L semifinals.)

CIAC Class S State Tournament, Quarterfinal
Boys Basketball
Valley Regional 54, St. Paul 53

(NOTES: Mitchell King of Valley hits baseline jumper as clock expires. Falcons eliminated in heartbreaking fashion.)

GameDay Live: Boys Basketball State Tournament Quarterfinals, Berlin And Bristol Eastern

CIAC Class L State Tournament, Quarterfinals
Girls Basketball
Berlin 58, Pomperaug 55


No. 4 Berlin advances to play No. 9 Hillhouse, a 41-39 upset winner over top-seeded Northwest Catholic, in the Class L semifinals.

E.O. Smith 70, Bristol Eastern 36
New Britain boys basketball beats Holy Cross 52-49, will play top-seeded Bridgeport Central, who beat Torrington 94-49 tonight, in Class LL quarterfinals.

St. Paul girls basketball beats Wamogo 51-37 to advance to the Class S semifinals against No. 2 Bolton, which defeated Cromwell 53-35 tonight.

Newington boys basketball eliminated by No. 12 Harding 66-51 in Class LL.

GameDay Ventures To The World Of Professional Boxing For Title Bout

It was a night of firsts Saturday for GameDay. Not only did I attend my first professional boxing event, I also got to see former champion Lennox Lewis, promoter Don King, a guy have a heart attack in the crowd, the Mohegan Sun Arena and some very talented ring girls. One thing that wasn't new, however, was my luck in the casino. But that's the last thing I want to write about. Saturday night I attended HBO's Boxing After Dark event at Mohegan Sun with the main event being a unification championship bout between Devon Alexander "The Great" and Juan "Iron Twin" Urango. But we'll start from the beginning.

The event started at 5:30 p.m. but with the HBO's light's going on at 9:30 p.m. there was no way me and the evil one would head in that early. And from what we hear that was a good decision, although our wallets probably wouldn't agree. After losing some dough we headed into the arena around eight and got to see two matches before the main event. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. Some guy named Derric Rossy defended his heavyweight championship title (I think he's the New York champion, or something lame like that) in the first bout after a 12-round decision over Zack Page. This bout was so bad the crowd was booing the final minute of the match. Finally, the bell sounded saving us all from completely falling asleep in our seats. I hope, for boxing's sake, this guy isn't being pumped up as a guy on the rise because if this bout was any indication, boxing's in for a boring future.

With those two heavyweights swaying from side-to-side and not bothering to throw any punches, we got the chance to get a good look at the arena for the first time. First, the concourse is very modern and matches the look and feel of the casino, so it was impressive. Going inside the actual arena was a different story. The seats were probably taken from the 1970s, with little comfort and space offered. I know I'm not the smallest guy, but I shouldn't have to squeeze into a seat at a sports arena. The seats themselves could have fallen apart by simple touch - they are that cheap looking and feeling. Also, people walking down the aisles made the section shake, which isn't something that should ever happen. The good thing about the place is that every seat is a good one. We did have better than good seats (which I guess were going for at least $40 at the ticket window ... mine were taken care of by the casino due to my long history of "donations" to the tribe.) With all the money that place is dragging in, you would think they'd spring for some comfortable and spacious seats.

Getting back to the fights. After another lackluster bout (luckily it was only four rounds) the spotlight's went on and HBO was on the air live. The evil one mentioned that he was still waiting for the "big-fight electricity" that everyone talks about and we got it when Alexander made his way down to the ring and then Michael Buffer did his "Let's get ready to rumble" spiel. But things took a turn for the serious when early in the fight a guy had a heart attack in the stands and took everyone's attention away from the fight. Luckily one person in the crowd did CPR on the person immediately until more help arrived. It was a surreal feeling watching the whole thing going on, in addition to a title fight taking place at the same time. The guy appeared to come out of everything relatively OK as he was conscious while being taken out on a stretcher. He had what probably was his young son with him, so for both of their sakes I hope everything worked out as best as it could have. The person who started CPR instantly is a true hero, and I don't throw that word around lightly.

After all of that, it was back to the title fight. During the seventh round, me and the evil one talked about wanting to see a knockout to save the night and that it had to come from Alexander, who we thought was losing a close one. Turns out, the judges had Alexander in front, but with all the drama going on in the stands our attention was never completely focused. Still, we wanted that knockout. And then it happened. Alexander landed a huge uppercut to Urango to knock the IBF champ to the mat. Urango got up, but Alexander soon put him back on the ground and the fight was stopped by the referee. Finally, we had something to cheer about and so did the rest of the crowd. Alexander won the fight, unified the titles, and after the post-fight interviews and celebrations, we both agreed that it was a great ending to a very, very strange night.

So, GameDay's first venture into the world of professional boxing was a success. Unfortunately, the high from the knockout didn't last too long as we were back to giving over "donations" to the Mohegans in no time.

Jets Make Big Splash Minutes Before Free Agency, Trade For Cromartie

It's not even midnight and the Jets already own the start of one of the biggest days on the NFL calendar. The Jets acquired cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers for a third-round draft pick that could escalate into a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. Great move by the Jets, who needed a solid corner in the worst way to pair with All-World defender Darrelle Revis.

Cromartie was unbelievable in 2007, with 10 interceptions, but had subpar seasons the last two years. The Jets are hoping he can reclaim that 2007 form. Now, the Jets turn their attention to possibly signing Broncos WR Brandon Marshall (who would cost them a first-round draft pick) and/or possibly trading safety Kerry Rhodes to the Arizona Cardinals for WR Anquan Boldin. We'll see what happens, but the Jets already have made a big splash on the NFL.

Jets Make It Official: Running Back Thomas Jones Will Be Released

Well, it's official. The Jets will release Thomas Jones on Friday. Here are the statements released by the team today. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum: “We have informed Thomas Jones and his representatives that we will release him on March 5. Thomas joined us three years ago and has been a productive, passionate leader both on and off the field who has served as a positive influence for our younger players. We were fortunate to acquire Thomas and wish him the best.”

Jets head coach Rex Ryan: “When I got here Thomas immediately became one of my guys. He had one of his best years last season - might have been his best. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a player and a person. As I said the other day, this is one of the tough decisions we had to make for our organization."

While it was fully expected, it does typify the fact that the NFL is a business. Jones had the best year of his career last season, but is cut by the team a few weeks later. Jones was great for the Jets in his three years with the team and Jets fans will always remember his run on fourth down to seal the game against the heavily favored San Diego Chargers this year.

(AP photo)

GameDay Live Hockey Gets Huge Numbers Plus More Thoughts

Some quick hits here at GameDay. First, thanks to everyone who checked in during the live blog of the United States gold medal hockey game against Canada yesterday afternoon. It was a huge success and I appreciate all of you who took part. It was by far the most successful live event we've had here so look for more in the future. And you can still read the replay below this post. Second, the early ratings from yesterday's Olympic hockey final were huge. About one-third of all televisions in the US that were watching TV at the time were tuned to the game. More people watched the game than the closing ceremonies. Absolutely huge numbers. Third, NFL free agency kicks off Friday, which has become a national holiday. It won't be the same this year, however, as the Jets, being a final four team, can only sign a free agent if they lose one and for the same money. So, forget about the Jets making a big splash in free agency like they've done in recent years. The Patriots and Giants will have open season on free agents, but both haven't been known as major players in the past. Fourth and finally, I picked out 12 possible team names for the Bristol NECBL squad that is still without a nickname. I tried to use as many as possible from reader suggestions, weeding out the ones that were similar. If you have a vote for something other than what's on the list, write it here and we'll count it. Otherwise, vote on the right side of the page. We'll have the poll up for a week and then we should have a winner.

RATINGS UPDATE: The US-Canada gold medal hockey game was the most watched hockey game since the 1980 Miracle on Ice team defeated Finland for goal after beating shocking Russia in the semifinals. Sunday's game drew 27.6 million people for a rating of 15.2, which was 45.5% more than the gold medal game featuring the same two teams in the Salt Lake City Games. The 1980 game drew 32.8 million viewers. From 5:30 to 6 p.m. 34.8 million people were watching Sunday's game. In Canada, half of the country tuned to the game and around 80 percent of the country watched at least part of it.

(AP photo)