It goes without saying that Philip Liu’s gutsy performance on Tuesday night’s “Jeopardy!” was one of the most intense, incredible moments in game show history. But that’s damning him with faint praise. What should be said is that it was one of the great moments in the history of America.
Our great nation was built by men like Philip. Risk takers. Dreamers. Men with the confidence to bet on themselves. To risk it all, with no safety net, no Plan B, just a do-or-die, dare-to-be-great situation with nothing but their wits between themselves and total disaster. And he succeeded.
And for the viewer, it couldn’t have been better. I had the answer before the question was finished. But time stood still while Philip strained, wracked his brain and finally pulled it out just as Alex Trebek was about to sound the buzzer and crush his dream. What this clip didn’t show is it was the last question of the round. And then, sitting on an enormous lead in Final Jeopardy, Philip wagered another $11,000 for an unthinkable $49,900. Once again, fortune favoring the brave.
So huzzah to you, Mr. Liu. A true man’s man. A credit to people of courage, boldness and self-confidence everywhere. The kind of man Rudyard Kipling was speaking about when he said:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; …
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Someday there’s going to be a Jeopardy question, “The gutsiest person of all time.” And the correct answer will be, “Who is Philip Liu.”
I’ve been a staunch supporter of Chandler Jones since the beginning of his career. In the face of vocal opposition, I’ve stood by him and I’ve paid the political price. I’ve literally been shrieked at on the air by callers, shouted down on social media and been the subject of protests by cyberbullies on our text line who’ve double-clicked the shift button to tell us how much Jones “SUCKS!!!!” But I’ve stuck to my guns because he has been a solid and often spectacular defensive end. There are only three NFL players who’ve topped 200 tackles, 36 sacks and 10 forced fumbles since Jones came into the league in 2012: J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan and him.
So on a scale of zero to the Lawyer Milloy trade, I’d say the surprise of the Patriots trading Jones on Tuesday for guard Jonathan Cooper and the Cardinals’ second-round pick was about a five. And yet, I love the trade. Not “like.” Love. Let me count the reasons why:
There was just no reasonable way the Pats were going to be able to sign Jones. If NFL GMs have been spending money like the proverbial drunken sailors this free agency period, then pass rushers have been their $10,000-a-night escorts. Oakland gave Bruce Irvin four years at $40 million, and Jones is appreciably better than he is. The Giants gave Olivier Vernon $85 million, with $52.5 million of that guaranteed. And he has seven fewer career sacks than Jones. It’s a seller’s market for edge rushers, and the prices are, to use the old cliche, innnsaaannne! The Patriots are too smart and disciplined to completely tip over their salary structure and make a defensive end by far the highest-paid player on the roster.
What’s the one area on this team every man, woman and child among us has said is the top priority this offseason? Don’t answer. I’ve got this. It’s protecting Tom Brady. By the time we got to the AFC championship game, he was taking so much abuse it looked like he had the title role in a Mel Gibson movie. Granted the offensive line had been decimated by that point. But we’ve learned the lesson that there’s no such thing as too much protection. (Note: that goes for on and off the field, Antonio Cromartie.)
3. The return on investment
I’m an educated man, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently about the blocking habits of Jonathan Cooper. We do know he was the seventh overall pick in the draft three years ago. Nick Caserio confirms that the Patriots had him very highly rated on their board. Their track record on evaluating offensive line talent matches up with anyone’s. And while I’ll concede there’s some risk here because by all accounts it was a make-or-break year for Cooper in Arizona, there’s reward as well, and it’s not often you get a shot at guys with so much potential they were selected in the single digits. The second round pick speaks for itself, and it says, “Hello, New England. I’ve now given you four picks between the 6oth and 96th spots in the draft.”
I say again, I like Chandler Jones. But he is not irreplaceable. Jabaal Sheard proved he can give you a fair approximation of Jones’ performance, if not sometimes flash even more. They just added Chris Long, who, in the last four years he was healthy, averaged over 10 sacks a season. Add to that the fact they drafted Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers in the third and early fourth rounds last year to doomsday prep for this very scenario. Not to mention the afterthoughts they’ve successfully coached up to good seasons, such as rush specialists Mark Anderson, Tully-Banta Cain and Andre Carter. Jones is a loss, no question. But not an insurmountable one.
1. In Bill We Trust
Sorry, but as a Patriots homer I’m morally and contractually obligated to say it. Also, it’s true.
“Bill Self owes me,” Obama joked about the Kansas coach while filling out his bracket with ESPN’s Andy Katz, as he picked Kansas to win twice before with no success. “I’m putting Kansas in here. Coach, I’m just teasing. I’m not putting pressure on you. But I think the Jayhawks in a squeaker get past UNC.”
Obama correctly predicted North Carolina would win in 2009, his first NCAA Tournament as Commander in Chief, but he has not picked the right winner since.
“This is going to be the year,” he said. “I started off making the right pick, I’m going to end making the right pick.”
Obama also has Texas A&M and Michigan State in his Final Four.
While acknowledging he doesn’t know enough about the smaller programs to predict many upsets, Obama — a native of Hawaii — went with 13th-seeded Hawaii to knock off fourth-seeded California in the first round.
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WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Thunder at Celtics, 7 p.m. (CSNNE, ESPN)
NBA: Clippers at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Holy Cross vs. Southern, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Michigan vs. Tulsa, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NIT, Belmont at Georgia, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, Princeton at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, Houston at Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, UAB at BYU, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Flyers at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Twins, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Tigers at Astros, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: White Sox at Brewers, 4:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Reds at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Arsenal vs. Barcelona, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)
AROUND THE WEB:
— There have been rumors in New York that Knicks president Phil Jackson might consider returning to the sideline as coach — perhaps only for home games, leaving current interim coach Kurt Rambis to handle away games. Carmelo Anthony, however, said that won’t be the case.
“Nah, nah, nah. I don’t think that should be accepted,” Anthony said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t accept that if that was the case. Phil is cool, man. He doesn’t need to be on the sidelines no more. He put so many years into this game. He’s cool. He doesn’t need to be on the sideline. I don’t think he’s thinking about coming back down on the sideline. I hope not. Let him ride on out. Let him sit out and be the president.”
Added Anthony: “Phil ain’t coaching no more, man. So let’s [kill] that rumor. Phil ain’t coaching no more.”
Last week Jackson hinted Rambis might be promoted to permanent coach. Anthony also had something less than enthusiastic to say about that.
“I think you still have to at least listen to other candidates out there,” Anthony said.
Anthony did not dismiss Rambis as an option, although Rambis’ 5-9 record since taking over for Derek Fisher last month — and his 32-132 record in his previous stint with the Timberwolves — isn’t blowing anyone away.
“I think you consider Kurt at that job,” Anthony said. “[Jackson] brought Kurt here for that reason if anything was to happen and the situation is here for him now. I think it’s just more of seeing how Kurt handles the situation right now, how the team does, how the team responds to Kurt.”
— Louisville coach Rick Pitino continues to profess ignorance to claims that an assistant coach paid strippers to perform for players and recruits during parties at a campus dormitory.
Speaking on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike,” Pitino said he hopes the NCAA investigation “comes up with the right answers, because it’s puzzling to all of us.”
Louisville self-imposed a ban on postseason play this season when it became clear there was some truth to the allegations that Andre McGee, a graduate assistant coach who became director of basketball operations, delivered strippers and cash to the players. Pitino said he doesn’t understand why McGee would take that risk, and he got in a dig at rival John Calipari in the process.
“If I could just get Andre McGee in a room for 10 minutes, I would say to him: ‘Why would you do this? What purpose did it serve? We didn’t need this to get recruits,’ ” Pitino said. “We’re not Kentucky, where we’re recruiting the one-and-dones. We have a different way we recruit. It didn’t make any sense what was going on. How these women infiltrated our program is very disturbing to me. And how Andre McGee, I should not say how, but why did Andre McGee get tied into this? Only Andre can make those answers. Someday I want him to do that. The last text I sent to him was, ‘Andre, I asked for one thing, and that’s for you to be honest and tell the truth.’ ”
Regarding his team’s postseason ban, Pitino said, “To say it breaks my heart would be putting it mildly.”
Added the former Celtics coach: “It’s a bitter pill to swallow. March Madness is my favorite time of the year.”
Cleaves, who led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship before embarking on a six-year NBA career, was expected to be arraigned Thursday after turning himself into police in Detroit. The 39-year-old was accused by a 24-year-old woman of driving her to a motel room and attacking her after they met at a charity golf event.
Cleaves’ attorney, Frank J. Manley called the charges “outrageous. … They’re false.”
“They have been catastrophic to Mr. Cleaves’ career. Where does he go to get his reputation back?”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy doesn’t see it that way, saying: “The evidence in this case will show that the alleged actions of this defendant were not only criminal, but arose out of a sense of entitlement sometimes found in prominent people.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 16, 1960, the Red Sox made a trade with the Indians, sending which catcher who chose to retire instead, negating the deal?
The Angels get a strange double play as left fielder Daniel Nava catches the second out but throws the ball into the stands thinking it was the end of the inning. However, Mariners baserunner Stefen Romero fails to retouch first base, and the Angels get the out on an appeal.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Sammy White, who returned to baseball a year later for one-year stints with the Milwaukee Braves and Phillies
SOOTHING SOUNDS: Nancy Wilson of Heart was born on this day in 1954. She’s the blonde.