No one would ever refer to New York as a hotbed for college football, but we are always the center of the NCAA pigskin universe the first week of December.
The marquee event is the Heisman Award ceremony, held Saturday night at the Best Buy Theater. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel won this year. After the ESPN show ended, Manziel went to the Heisman press center at the Marriott Marquis hotel, where he discussed everything from the importance of winning this year’s Cotton Bowl to looking forward to hearing from the top Aggie alum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
It was somewhat surreal that while the Heisman event honoring the best in college football was taking place at the Marriott Marquis, so was a Columbia University football recruiting dinner. The Columbia Lions of course have been a perennial laughingstock for generations, as evidenced by this year’s 69-0 loss to Harvard.
To be fair, the Lions did win two Ivy League games in 2012, beating both Cornell and Yale, making this one of their most successful seasons in years. Maybe rookie head coach Pete Mangurian is turning the program around after all. I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on that however.
Speaking of the Ivy League, the Bushnell Awards for the best conference player on offense and defense, respectively, were bestowed upon Harvard QB Colton Chapple and Princeton linebacker Mike Catapano last Monday at the Waldorf Astoria. The newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame were announced there the next day, with the more familiar names being Ty Detmer, Dave Casper, Art Monk and Tommy Kramer.
Madison Square Garden is known as the “world’s most famous arena,” and it proved it again with the 12/12/12 concert to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy, which should net hundreds of millions of dollars.
The organizers of the concert held a press conference at the Garden last Friday. Film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who cofounded Miramax with his brother Bob, and now runs the Weinstein Company, talked about growing up in Electchester, attending PS 200 and John Bowne High School, and spending summers with his grandparents in Far Rockaway.
Cablevision and MSG CEO James Dolan thanked the media for their help, something he admitted his unusual for him, and that got some good-natured laughs from the press corps.
Dolan is a rock musician himself, and I asked him if his band, JD & the Straight Shot, would share the bill with Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel and Eric Clapton. “No chance!” he replied with a chuckle. It’s too bad. The band’s new CD, “Midnight Run,” is quite good.
Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation teamed up with Delta Air Lines this past Tuesday to host a number of patients from Cohen’s Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish at JFK International for the third annual “Holiday in the Hangar.” Delta converts one of its depots into a festive winter wonderland for the event. Among the participants teaching the kids sports skills were former Knicks guard John Starks, Liberty center Kym Hampton, and Rangers legend Rod Gilbert.
Former Springfield Gardens High School and Hofstra hoops star Charles Jenkins was back in the area Friday night when his NBA team, the Golden State Warriors — who are coached by St. John’s alum and former Cambria Heights resident Mark Jackson — came to the Barclays Center to play the Brooklyn Nets.
“My teammates were very generous in that they gave me tickets so that my parents and my friends from Rosedale could watch me play,” Jenkins said. He added that he enjoys living in the Lake Merritt section of Oakland, Calif., which reminds him in many ways of Queens.
The Mets did the right thing in re-signing David Wright to a lucrative seven-year contract. Instead of having a press conference at Citi Field, the Mets had Wright meet with a handful of reporters in Nashville, where the baseball winter meetings were taking place.
But if you’re going to spend $160 million on one of the most important players in your franchise’s history, wouldn’t it make more sense to maximize public and press attention by having an event featuring Wright in your own stadium? Of course, not holding a confab at Citi Field saved the Mets a catering bill from their food provider, Aramark. I would hope that wouldn’t be the reason for their thinking, but I wouldn’t put it past them either.
Eric LeGrand, the defensive tackle who broke his neck on a play against Army at MetLife Stadium in October 2010 and has been paralyzed since, was the featured speaker at the Sports Business Journal-IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum last week. In spite of what occurred, LeGrand remains upbeat and is hoping to have a career in broadcasting. He just penned his autobiography, “Believe” (William Morrow Publishing). He said that he is fortunate in that all of his physical therapy costs and motorized wheelchair are paid for by insurance but added that he hopes others who are in his situation, but do not have enough financial resources, would be able to get the same care that he has, through government intervention.
I wonder if Floyd Mayweather will finally agree to meet Manny Pacquiao in light of the fact that his nemesis has dropped two straight fights, including last Saturday night’s by knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao turns 34 this Monday and it’s clear that his best days in the ring are behind him.
Former Giants linebacker and current radio voice Carl Banks has designed Christmas tree ornaments that are being sold on HSN.com. Proceeds will go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The NCAA frowns upon college athletes receiving any kind of compensation but the one time that the sanctioning body looks the other way is when college teams participate in bowl games. Sponsors are allowed to bestow goods upon athletes as long as their fair market value is below $550. According to the Sports Business Journal, the most popular items that football players scoop up at gifting suites are Oakley sunglasses, New Era apparel, and watches made by Fossil and Armitron, whose headquarters are located in Long Island City.
Don’t let the arrival of winter deter you from brisk walks and morning jogs. If you must do your exercise with your iPod then a couple of apparel companies have items for you. Aerial 7 makes Lycra caps (they call them sports beanies) that have earbuds built into them, and Hoodie Buddies, which manufactures wind-breakers and sweatshirts, also includes earbuds in all its clothing lines.
When I was growing up, General Motors’ Cadillac and Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury divisions battled it out for dominance in the luxury car market. Last Tuesday night, they duked it out again in Manhattan as Cadillac held a celebration for its 110th anniversary at — ironically — Lincoln Center. Meanwhile Lincoln, attempting to rebrand itself with its new MKZ automobile, had a press event at the Palace Hotel that featured a performance from Chris Mann, a new vocalist who was a hit on NBC’s “The Voice.” Incidentally, Ford dropped the Mercury from Lincoln-Mercury nearly two years ago.